WATERVILLE — The city has a new $216,236 dual-chamber packer truck that can collect both household trash and recyclables at the same time, saving public works crews time and enabling residents to leave recycling out at the curb every week instead of every other week.

Purchased from Freightliner of Maine, in Bangor, the truck was delivered to the public works compound April 9 and crews will put it into service this week on a trial basis before going full tilt with the new system, according to Public Works Director Mark Turner.

“It’s going to be very unique,” Turner said. “I think we’re the only one, or one of only a few municipalities in the state that has one. There are private contractors that have similar trucks, but I’m not even sure they’re using them in Maine.”

The city paid $216,236 for the truck after trading in its old 1999 packer, according to Turner. The new truck and chassis came from Freightliner’s manufacturing facility in North Carolina and was delivered to Bangor and then driven to Loadmaster in Norway, Michigan, where the packer body was installed and the truck was painted the orange color of Waterville’s public works trucks, Turner said. Then it was driven to Messer Truck Equipment in Westbrook, where workers went through it to make sure it was working right and then it went to Freightliner in Bangor. A Freightliner representative delivered the truck and body to Waterville.

“It made a 2,100-mile delivery trip and then we received it,” Turner said. “With all the distant locations the new packer had to travel while being assembled, it can truly be said that the vehicle was made in America.”

City Manager Michael Roy and the city’s solid waste committee worked with Turner to help identify the best possible trash and recycling collection system.

“Mike Roy was instrumental in putting this together with me,” Turner said. “We’ve kind of worked together several years, coming up with this. He always has some good thoughts and insights on things. The solid waste committee over the past several years evaluated different ideas and methods and this is what we came up with as a solution, long-term.”

Roy said he is excited the truck has arrived.

“We’ve very grateful that the people of Waterville have had patience with the recycling effort because we’ve had some hiccups with recycling pickup over the last few months as a result of not having the adequate equipment,” Roy said. “But that’s going to change dramatically because we’re going to pick up recycling every week. I think it’s been well worth the wait, considering what we’re going to get.”

Turner expects the system will be efficient and save time and money.

“Instead of having two crews out collecting trash and recycling separately, we’ll have one crew collecting both,” he said.

The arrival of the new truck coincides with the end of the city’s solid waste contract with Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. in Orrington. The contract ended April 1. On April 2, the city started hauling trash to Waste Management in Norridgewock instead of sending it to the Oakland transfer station, from which it was taken to PERC. Waterville already had been sending recycling to Waste Management, which is 19 miles from the city.

“Now, we’ll haul recycling and trash to Norridgewock every day,” Turner said. “That will also provide some cost savings, I think.”

Residents may leave both trash and recyclables at the curb each week on their designated day, which will be convenient for both residents and public works crews, as the volume to be picked up is less than it was when recycling was picked up only every other week. The only time the schedule will change is if there is a holiday, according to Turner.

If, for instance, a holiday falls on a Monday when crews have the day off, they will pick up both the Monday and Tuesday trash on Tuesday, but not the Monday recycling. Those whose recycling is usually picked up on Monday will have it picked up on Monday the following week rather than having to wait two weeks as is the case now.

“The residents are going to enjoy having the option of either putting recycling out every week or once a month, but we’ll be out there collecting recycling five days a week except on holidays,” Turner said.

The city will be entering its fifth year of the curbside pay-as-you-throw and single sort recycling program which began in July 2014, according to Turner, who said the program has been successful.

“We’ve had good participation rates from all the neighborhoods, and everybody seems to be committed to it and passionate about it and they enjoy it, I think,” he said.

The City Council voted in September last year to buy the dual chamber packer truck from Freightliner.

On April 9, the day the truck arrived in Waterville, Mark Clement, fleet maintenance technician team leader for the public works department, drove the clean, shiny, orange packer truck out of a garage and onto the grounds of the public works complex off Wentworth Court. Public Works Superintendent Karl Morse was on hand, as was Turner. Looking at the back of the truck, the 15-cubic-yard recycling section is on the right and the 10-cubic-yard trash section is on the left.

“The volume of recycling should be more manageable than doing it every other week,” Turner said.

Clement maneuvered gears on the truck to demonstrate how, once the trash chamber is full of trash, it can be pushed out of the back of the truck. The highest point of the truck’s body is at least 15 feet.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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