01/22/09 — Landfill ramps will be widened for safety's sake

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Landfill ramps will be widened for safety's sake

By Steve Herring
Published in News on January 22, 2009 1:46 PM

Ramps at some of the county's convenience sites literally have people on the edge when it comes to driving a full-sized pickup truck onto them.

It is a safety issue that the county hopes to rectify through a $250,000 project to widen most of the 13 convenience site ramps.

Meanwhile, no relief appears to be in sight for the ailing recyclables market.

"Blair Tyndall, our safety director, Tim Rogers (solid waste department director) and his staff and his safety folks have looked at the (ramp) design and we have recommended to the Solid Waste Committee to improve those sites," County Manager Lee Smith told commissioners at their Jan. 6 session. "It won't be all of the sites, I think it's about nine or 10 of them."

Rogers said in an interview that the numbers are still being compiled on the cost per site.

The Solid Waste Committee will meet again to decide which sites will be worked on and how many can be done this year, he said.

"We would be adding four feet of ramp so we would actually be widening those," Smith said. "That is going to cause us to lose boxes and there is going to be some inconveniences over the next few months."

The $250,000 will come from the county's enterprise fund and Smith is hopeful the final amount will be less than anticipated.

"I will bring a budget amendment back at the next (commissioners') meeting," Smith said. "Our engineers are working on the design to make these improvements for safety reasons, but also for the convenience of the public."

Safety is also the basis for a pending change at the landfill as well.

For years the public has had to make the winding trip to the top of the landfill to dump trash -- the same trip made by the large commercial trucks and near where the larger landfill machines are at work.

"Now instead of going up on the hill' as we call it, people will actually be able to go to where they used to put tires," Smith said. "That improvement will make it safer, make it better."

That change is expected to be effective next month.

Commercial vehicles and large loads will still "go to the hill," he said.

"When manufacturing goes down, recycling goes down and the prices go down and it is at a lull again," Smith said of the recyclables market.

Smith said the county would continue to work with the Wayne Opportunity Center that has handled the selling of county recyclables for several years.

The center sells the recyclables and the county receives a percentage of the proceeds.

Even with revenues from recyclables down, the partnership continues to save money for the county, Smith said.

"We have worked with Wayne Opportunity Center for some time," Smith said. "They save us a lot of money and not just on fuel. We are saving just about a $100,000 a year just in fuel alone in not having to move trucks and crossing paths several times a day. They have done a good job for us."

Prior to the county's arrangement with the Wayne Opportunity Center, county trucks had to haul the recyclables to Sampson County.

"We are continuing to work with Wayne Opportunity and I am sure their board knows it is a tough time right now because prices have really fallen on plastic and glass and in particular paper and metals are down," Smith said. "We think the metal market will rebound sometime in the spring, but basically that will depend on manufacturing and right now we don't see a lot of light on that."

Smith said Wayne Opportunity will store some of the recyclables on-site until the market improves.

"They have that capability, that is what a lot of folks do, and that keeps us from having to have a warehouse and balers. If I can get somebody to do that at a very low cost, it is still my advice to stay with Wayne Opportunity and support them. Right now the prices are hurting all of us."