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4-5-2011 Tons of Trash to be Trucked North of Brawley - News Article

By Elizabeth Varin, Imperial Valley Press 

Tons of trash from Los Angeles may soon be trucked through the Imperial Valley, down Westmorland’s Main Street and north of Brawley.

The Imperial County Board of Supervisors approved a plan to allow up to 4,000 tons of trash to be trucked to the Mesquite Regional Landfill near Glamis.

Trash will start to come down Highway 86, with plans to bring it along Bannister Road to Rutherford Road and down to Highway 78.

trucks had not been allowed before, the change gives the Sanitation District of Los Angeles more flexibility in transporting trash, said district General Manager Stephen Maguin. It will also allow Imperial County to see benefits much sooner than what had been scheduled.

The district will be limited to 15 trucks a day — about 300 tons of trash — until the Brawley Bypass is finished, he said. From there the number could increase to about 200 trucks, though there would rarely be that many once a rail line is finished.

The landfill is the first waste-by-rail system in the country, said project manager Janet Coke. It is expected to be completed in 2012.

Each train will be able to bring 4,000 tons of waste, and the trucks will be used in case there’s a load less than 4,000 tons, Coke said. The district is allowed up to 20,000 tons of waste a day.

Residents and business owners raised concerns over a variety of issues dealing with the trucks, including farm equipment on some of the county roads, the impact for dunes users and
safety issues for Westmorland Elementary School.

A big concern is for students, especially those who have to cross Highway 86 to get to school, said Bill Burns, a member of the elementary school board. Having a
truck pass through town every four minutes or so could make it unsafe for students and crossing guards.

The project would have a big impact on the whole community in North County, said Farm Bureau Executive Director Linsey Dale. Adding more trucks could make it unsafe for farm equipment that uses Bannister and Rutherford roads.

There could also be a big impact on Westmorland because of the 200 trucks that will be permitted to go through town, she said. While the district had told the board there wouldn’t be many days when they will have 200 trucks on the road, the possibility is still there, she said.

“They can go up to 200 trucks, 365 days a year,” she said. “Bottom line, it is going to impact our community, our schools, our roads, our residents, our businesses.”

A lot of questions seemed to come from the public, said Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Jack Terrazas.

“Probably the biggest ones are what ifs,” he said. “What if the rail road doesn’t work out?”

The project is expected to bring benefits to the Valley, said Supervisor Gary Wyatt.

“We’re going to receive the most impact from this type of project, and we should see the most benefit,” he said.

That benefit will come from increased jobs from the landfill and a possible truck yard planned by the sanitation district, he said. The trucks should be located here, fueled here and serviced here.

However, once the train gets done, most of the trash will go by rail and very little is planned to go by truck, he said.

Staff Writer Elizabeth Varin can be reached at evarin@ivpressonline.com or 760-337-3441.

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