City of Lubbock to build $18M solid waste transfer station to improve trash truck efficiency

The City of Lubbock hopes to improve the efficiency of solid waste collection and other field operations with a transfer station.
Published: Dec. 20, 2022 at 8:23 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 21, 2022 at 12:44 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The City of Lubbock hopes to improve the efficiency of solid waste collection and other field operations with a transfer station. The Lubbock City Council intends to issue as much as $18.75 million in certificates of obligation to finance the project, a form of debt funding through bonds that do not require voter approval.

“The capital cost is bigger than we can cover in cash in any one particular year,” City Manager Jarrett Atkinson said. “I think, just as importantly, this is a multi-decade-long benefit, multi-decade-long project. Spreading the cost of it out, rather than trying to hit all of our customers upfront in one, two, or three years, spreading that out makes a lot more sense. It’s the common method for financing public infrastructure. I think it works well.”

The transfer station was approved in the FY 2022-23 budget. The City Council, at its December 6 meeting, initiated the process to issue the certificates of obligation.

“Our number one priority in the General Fund, in terms of capital [projects], is that transfer station,” Atkinson told KCBD.

The argument for a transfer station is to cut down on the time solid waste trucks spend driving to the landfill, the West Texas Regional Disposal Facility west of Abernathy, to be emptied.

“Picture in your mind maybe going out to the corner of 130th Street and Upland Avenue,” Atkinson said. “How long does it take you to get to Abernathy, to go west of Abernathy to empty your truck, and to come back and go back to working? It can take well over an hour and a half for some of the routes.”

The City estimates some trucks can make that trip two to four times a day. It is currently evaluating potential sites for the transfer station. Atkinson said it would be strategic to allow for future growth.

“Those trucks may have to now travel five to six to seven miles to be able to empty and turn right around and go back to work, rather than driving to the big regional landfill west of Abernathy and then coming back,” Atkinson said. “It’s huge for efficiency, helps you cover growth without having to just continue to add trucks. The trucks will last longer not being out on the highway as we go through all of that and each truck will be able to service more cans per day than they can right now with all their drive time.”

According to the City’s budget, this would provide a “substantial” saving in fuel and vehicle and equipment maintenance. It’s believed the savings as well as Solid Waste rate revenue will pay off the debt.

It’s also believed the facility will serve other departments and city operations that are also stationed along Municipal Drive with Solid Waste.

“The vast majority of our city equipment comes in every evening, and leaves every morning from a location in Northeast Lubbock,” Atkinson said. “As the city has grown to 135-plus square miles, that equipment spends a lot of time on the road to and from, to and from. If we have the correct site for the transfer station, that gives us an opportunity to also be able to use it as, I would call it a service center. We would have a place to keep some of the heavy equipment, some of the street trucks. I think over time it would benefit us to have a second fleet operation or repair facility and also fueling. Over time, this can grow into a huge benefit.”

Once the City acquires the site, it will need to be approved and permitted by the TCEQ. According to the budget documents, it could be operational in 2025.