Danedri Thompson
There may be new trash regulations coming to Gardner. City council members will discuss whether to contract trash services through a city bidding process at a future meeting.
Officials were debating how to handle truck traffic in the city when they decided there may be an opportunity to decrease road maintenance costs by regulating trash haulers.
Currently, Gardner residents hire their own trash service from a variety of companies including Gardner Disposal, Ottawa Sanitation, L&K Services, and Defenbaugh.
Brian Faust, public works director, said regulating the number of trash trucks on city roads at any one given time may limit future road maintenance costs.
Faust mentioned the possibility during a presentation about truck routes in Gardner. Currently, Main Street or U.S. 56 Highway, Center Street or Gardner Road, 167th Street and Moonlight Road are designated truck routes. Per the existing 2010 city ordinance, trucks can use any roads if they are making local deliveries.
City council members, however, expressed concerns that intermodal semi-trucks are exiting Interstate 35 at Gardner Road and using 191st Street to access the BNSF intermodal. Although the Kansas Department of Transportation has put signs on I-35 notifying trucks to use the Homestead Lane exit, many drivers continue to use the Gardner Road exit.
Council member Larry Fotovich said he has a problem with large, corrugated metal trucks driving through town, possibly to avoid the truck scales on I-35 north of Gardner.
“Container trucks are using Gardner Road as a freeway,” Fotovich said.
He said it’s only a matter of time before there is a horrific truck accident involving an 18-wheeler truck on Gardner Road.
“It’s going to happen,” he said. “It’s a ticking time bomb.”
Faust listed several options to deal with truck traffic, including maintaining the existing truck routes, eliminating some of the current designated routes, or eliminating all routes and allowing through trucks on only U.S. 56 Highway. He also suggested that the city could contract trash hauling in town and bill the service as a city utility.
Faust said another possibility would be additional signage telling drivers where truck routes exist and to utilize the Homestead Lane/I-35 interchange.
“This is already happening,” he told council members.
Faust also said truck drivers will ignore some routing signage, no matter what council decides.
Better enforcement of existing truck rules in Gardner will also help, he explained. Improved enforcement is also already occurring. The Gardner Police Department has one officer trained to do extensive truck inspections. The department does not have truck scales, however. Police Chief Gerald Cullumber said a portable truck scale would cost approximately $30,000.
“There are some things we need to get in place so we can address the problem,” Cullumber said. He asked that officers be allowed to get out and enforce existing truck regulations before changing them.
Faust said that eliminating all truck routes in the city may affect businesses. For example, he said truck drivers won’t legally be allowed to stop into a convenience store and grab a piece of pizza.
Council member Heath Freeman agreed that eliminating the truck routes through town would be short-sighted
Freeman was overruled, however. Council members reached a consensus to eliminate all truck routes with the exception of U.S. 56 Highway, or Main Street. The road is controlled by the state, and the city does not have authority to limit trucks on that thoroughfare.
Council members did not address trash hauling again until the end of the meeting. Right before adjournment, Fotovich said he would like the city to consider regulating trash haulers in some fashion. Specifically, he suggested a bidding process that would allow haulers to bid for hauling contracts in different parts of the city. While several council members said they did not initially like the idea, they said they are willing to entertain a discussion.