MUSCLE SHOALS, AL (WAFF) - City residents are being notified that later this year there will be changes to their weekly garbage collection, according to our news partner.
The changes are necessary because the city has purchased new automated side-loading garbage trucks that can be operated by one person.
Mayor David Bradford said the three Sidewinder garbage trucks from New Way Refuse Trucks arrived last week. The trucks cost $597,156 and were purchased through the National Joint Powers Alliance Purchasing Cooperative.
"We just sent the letters out to residents on changing the positioning of cans and locations with times to have them at the curb," Bradford said.
Joseph Campbell, crew leader over the Street and Sanitation Department, said it's important that homeowners place the can on the street with the front of the cart facing the street and the handle facing the curb.
"We're going to be putting those trucks out the last week in March," Campbell said.
The truck has an articulated arm the driver operates with a joystick. The arm picks up the cart and dumps it into the hopper, then sets the cart back down.
Campbell said the cart will not empty into the hopper correctly if the cart is not positioned properly.
"It can't be near mailboxes or close to any vehicles because of the grabber arm," Campbell said.
He said the trucks have dual steering wheels, which allow the vehicles to be operated from what is typically known as the "passenger seat."
The arm, he said, "is pretty much operated from the joystick."
There are cameras that allow the driver to see the cart and inside the hopper.
Campbell said the existing carts are compatible with the new system. The city ordered new black carts last summer, and will be placing another order this year. If a cart is broken, the city will replace it.
Campbell said garbage placed beside carts will not be picked up. He said the city will provide residents a second cart for $3 per month.
He said the three drivers will be trained how to operate and become proficient with the new articulated arms before the trucks are put into use.
Campbell said he doubts many garbage routes will be changed, but residents who live on corners might be asked to place their cart on another street. Residents will be notified if their cart location is changed.
Campbell said employees who used to work on garbage trucks will be reassigned to other duties, such as the sign crew or tree-trimming crew.
"We're putting them where they're needed," he said.
The new trucks could also reduce the amount of time it takes to pick up garbage every week. Campbell said it takes three days to run the city's garbage routes.
"We will be training and putting more safety lighting on (the trucks) and the city seal before operating routes," Bradford said.
Similar trucks are already in use in Florence, Sheffield and Tuscumbia.