Roanoke Valley Resource Authority considers breaking ties with Norfolk Southern

By Rob Manch - Reporter
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ROANOKE COUNTY (WSLS 10) - For the past 22 years, if you lived in Roanoke, Vinton, or Roanoke County, when you threw something away, it ended up at the Roanoke Valley Resource Authority landfill.

That trash is brought there by a train operated by norfolk southern, but the contract between the two companies is coming to an end in 2018 and the authority is considering trucking as another option.

That's not something people living nearby want to hear.

Just last month, the Resource Authority started accepting trash from the City of Salem as well, and it increased the demand by 50 percent.

Then, Norfolk Southern's trains failed to show, twice.

Authority CEO Dan Miles says that's led the organization to research the trucking option, but it's not something neighbors are happy about.

Neighbors, like Robin Garrett, say they worry about the new road that would need to be built for the trucks.

"It will be right in my back door and I have animals, of course there's lots of wildlife, so you know I'm real concerned about that," said Garrett.

Another concern is the new amount of traffic that would come with trucking trash.

"During the summertime, you could be looking at peak traffic of somewhere around 50 to 60 trucks a day," said Miles.

Sixty trucks carrying smelly refuse.

Neighbors say a train is one thing, but dealing with that kind of traffic would be a nightmare.

"I've dealt with the train. You kinda got used to it, it's only one, and it's usually at night, but they said these trucks would be daytime, day shift jobs," said neighbor Carol Mitchell.

Those trucks would transport trash more than 20 miles.

The road would cost $4.2 million, but even if the Authority stays with a rail system, Miles says the road would still be a good idea.

"If we've got one mode of transporting the waste to the landfill from our operations, and that service is not available, then that impact is felt throughout the region very rapidly," said Miles.

For now, Miles says the Authority has worked out a deal.

"During the six month window, Norfolk Southern has agreed not to charge an additional fee to transport the extra pulls. Conversely, we are increasing their business by 50 percent as well," said Miles.

But after those six months, Garrett says she doesn't want to see new construction behind her house.

"It would not be good for me," said Garrett.

Another concern for Garrett and other people living nearby is that they are technically in Montgomery County, and their trash is taken to Christiansburg.

So whether or not trucks will help prevent a rate increase doesn't affect them, but the noise and traffic definitely will.

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