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January 9, 2020

Truckloads of soil running again to close old dump

Photos/Lawrence Emerson
Two trucks loaded with soil enter the old landfill site from Green Road on Thursday morning.
Returning to the quarry, trucks exit the county property, turning right onto Green Road, headed for Beach Road, then back to Meetze Road. (Map below story.)
I don’t think it’s fair to expect that the people who live on the loop should have to put up with that kind of volume or interference.
— Joanne Duncan
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
After an abrupt halt three months ago, county government this week resumed a massive project to haul dirt from a Warrenton quarry to cap Fauquier’s old landfill just south of town.

The county suspended the operation a week after it started Oct. 1, when Green Road residents complained about related truck traffic, road safety and noise impacts.

At no expense to the county, Vulcan Materials Co. has agreed move 250,000 cubic yards of soil from its quarry along Meetze Road south of Warrenton to the landfill, using a back entrance on Green Road.

The plan will save Fauquier $750,000 in soil, transportation and grading costs to cap the 36-acre dump, according to county officials. That means Fauquier will spend an estimated $11.3 million rather than $12.1 million to shut the old dump.

The deal also provides Birmingham, Ala.-based Vulcan Materials a cost-effective way to dispose of excess soil.

And, it represents “a good way for us to take material we do not need and put it to use for a very important project with the county that should save the county and the taxpayers substantial money,” Vulcan Spokesman Glenn Cobb said in an email Thursday.

But the project comes with a price for neighbors who live along the narrow, two-lane route. Moving all of that soil to the old landfill site will put thousands of truckloads on the road.

Vulcan believed the original plan called for continuously running up to 20 trucks per weekday between the quarry and the Green Road access to the old dump site.

That would generate more than 100 truckloads per weekday.

County Supervisor Rick Gerhardt, whose Cedar Run District includes the landfill, had a radically different understanding of the project’s scope.

Based on information from the county staff, Mr. Gerhardt thought it would generate just 15 truckloads per day.

So did Green Road neighbors.

Mr. Gerhardt and the neighbors also understood that the Green Road access to the old landfill site would be used only to deliver soil. After depositing dirt, trucks would leave the landfill via the Route 29 entrance, which also serves Lord Fairfax Community College.

Not so.

Trucks will use the Green Road access to enter and leave the landfill. Creating a loop, the travel route includes Meetze, Green and Beach roads.

Fauquier and Vulcan have no written agreement documenting the plan.

On the morning of Oct. 1, Vulcan trucks started to roll.

Almost immediately, Green Road neighbors complained to Mr. Gerhardt about the truck volume, road safety and noise. The project stopped within a week.

The outcry blindsided him.

Fauquier General Services Department Director Michael Kresse oversees landfill operations.

On Oct. 8, Mr. Kresse and a landfill staff member met with a Vulcan representative to discuss the project.

Topics included traffic volume, the delivery schedule, the truck route, speed and noise.

Later that morning, Mr. Kresse summarized the meeting in an email to Mr. Gerhardt.

Mr. Kresse took responsibility for the confusion over daily traffic volumes the project would generate.

“I will wear this one,” he wrote.

When he and Mr. Gerhardt “discussed the volume of trucks, I obviously was not clear enough in my description,” Mr. Kresse said. “In my notes from the previous talks with Vulcan I had 15-20 trucks a day. During the meeting with you I talked about 15-20 trucks a day being used to haul the dirt from Vulcan.

“Those 15-20 trucks would run continually throughout the day, resulting in the current average of 15-16 loads an hour or roughly 100-110 loads per day with each load running through the loop on the attached map. Again, I will own this as I either didn’t understand well enough at the time or didn’t explain it well enough to properly convey this message. For that I apologize.”

He indicated substantial changes to the Vulcan plan might kill the deal.

“In speaking with Vulcan, they are open to reaching an agreeable solution,” Mr. Kresse concluded. “However, reducing the amount of trucks or changing the route would greatly alter their financial parameters by which this decision was made and may wind up being a deal breaker. As of right now, everything is on hold until an agreeable solution can be reached.”

Mr. Gerhardt seemed frustrated and angry.

In an Oct. 8 email to Mr. Kresse, the supervisor said: “At this point I just don’t know what to say. My constituents are certainly going to feel I misled them, if I agree to” the Vulcan plan then in place. “A sh---y spot to be put in, frankly.

“15-20 loads an hour versus 15-20 a day is not acceptable, given the circumstances. Also, as far as I’m concerned they can enter on Green but not exit. This was how the process was explained to me and this is how I outlined it to the folks on Green Rd, which you were copied on.”

Mr. Gerhardt copied the email to County Administrator Paul McCulla and Deputy County Administrator Katie Heritage.

A new “verbal” agreement between the county and Vulcan limits the company to running eight to 10 trucks continuously from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.

But, drivers will continue to use the Green Road access to enter and leave the old landfill site.

Joanne Duncan, who lives off Green Road, had no major problems with the original proposal as explained to her, even though it used the rear entrance to drop off soil.

Mrs. Duncan and other neighbors believe the Vulcan agreement violates a previous board of supervisors’ commitment never again to use the Green Road entrance for landfill purposes.

“It made it sound like we were going to have 15 dump truckloads per day,” Mrs. Duncan said of the original plan. “Who’s going to complain about that? What choice did we have? It sounded like a good deal to save $750,000.”

Even under the new plan, she believes truck traffic will overwhelm the affected roads and take a longer than three months, as indicated by county staff, to get the job done.

Because of poor planning, Mrs. Duncan believes “we’re going to be putting up with four or five months of 200 trips per day.”

She added: “I don’t think it’s fair to expect that the people who live on the loop should have to put up with that kind of volume or interference.”

Various factors make it difficult to say precisely how long it will take to deliver the soil, the Vulcan spokesman said.

“We will work closely with the county to deliver the material as they are prepared to receive it,” Mr. Cobb explained in an email Thursday.  “The job will be complete when they have received the amount of fill they need for this project.

“There is no simple way to figure out how long that will be since there are so many variables affecting when and how much material can be delivered — weather being a major factor.”

Mr. Gerhardt said he sympathizes with Green Road residents and other affected by the project.

“Nobody is anxious to have dump trucks rolling down their road, obviously,” Mr. Gerhardt said in a telephone interview Friday.

But Vulcan, “in my opinion, is doing us a pretty big favor in saving the taxpayers $750,000,” the supervisor said. “It’s pretty significant.”

Mr. Gerhadt added: “I just don’t think it’s avoidable.”

Fauquier spends millions of dollars annually to pump “leachate” — much of it from the old landfill — and haul it away for treatment.

Closing the old landfill dramatically will reduce the flow of toxic liquid it produces.

Under an agreement with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the county will shut the old landfill in 2022. The year-long construction process will begin May 1, 2021.

Contact Don Del Rosso at Don@FauquierNow.com or 540-270-0300.

Fauquier Landfill Closure T... by Fauquier Now on Scribd

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oconn · January 18, 2020 at 1:20 pm
The old

Not
In
My
Back
Yard

comes to mind

"Having the 'dump' right here saves me money on hauling trash BUT I am not comfortable with YOU using my street to get there...or something like that."
Tony Bentley · January 15, 2020 at 10:30 am
Damage to the road would be my concern over the dust, etc.
steelernation · January 10, 2020 at 11:26 am
hopefully the residents along Green Road realize that this is a TEMPORARY inconvenience that will solve a PERMANENT solution at the landfill. must lead a really boring life to sit and count the number of trucks per day.
Good grief for sure!!!!
DonkeyFarmer · January 9, 2020 at 7:43 pm
Good grief, Vulcan is doing this for FREE, and will save the county 3/4 of a million dollars and they still complain!
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