For most of its history, the city of Anoka had a single garbage hauler — from its inception until 1991, according to City Manager Greg Lee.
As the city continues to pour millions of dollars into its street renewal program each year, it’s considering a return to a single-hauler system in the hope of protecting the city’s investment in its roads by reducing the number of heavy trucks using them.
An open house to provide information and collect public feedback is scheduled 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 23, at Green Haven Golf Course, 2800 Greenhaven Road, Anoka.
The city looked at the idea of returning to a single hauler about five years ago and received vocal opposition from some community members. But as city staff says evidence is mounting that the garbage trucks are reducing the life of city streets, the council is ready to revisit the discussion.
City Manager Greg Lee said comparing neighborhood streets to cemetery streets helped convince him that vehicle traffic plays a more significant role than weather in road deterioration. While the cemetery streets experience the same weather, they bear a much lighter vehicle load than other city streets and last 60-80 years, he said, compared to perhaps 30 years for residential streets.
One garbage truck is equivalent to almost 1,300 passenger vehicles, according to city staff research. A 2014 analysis by Bolton-Menk for the city of Fridley found garbage trucks reduce the life of Fridley’s pavement by 17.9%, Lee said.
Anoka already has single-hauler recycling, but eight different garbage haulers currently operate in the city.
Mayor Phil Rice thinks it’s time to make a change.
“We went 80 years without a street renewal program,” Rice said. “After we allowed garbage trucks to essentially octuple, it only took nine years, and we said we have to do something to our streets because they’re just getting broken to bits.”’
Although garbage trucks aren’t the only factor, he said the city can attribute “a pretty substantial cost” to allowing eight garbage haulers to drive their trucks around on city roads.
Anoka has spent $47.6 million on city streets over the last 20 years, and Rice thinks it needs to protect that investment by restricting the number of heavy trucks.
“We do everything we can to protect our streets from winter,” he said. “We really should be doing everything we can to protect our streets from wear and tear by vehicles as well.”
Ultimately Rice thinks Anoka will return to a single-hauler system because it makes the most sense in the long run.
“It’s not a question of if we’re going to single hauler; it’s a question of when,” he said.
The council discussed the issue during work sessions Oct. 28 and Dec. 9 and agreed to have an open house and gather community feedback.
The Jan. 23 open house will include an informational presentation by city staff, as well as an opportunity to ask questions. An introduction is scheduled for 6:15 p.m., followed by the presentation at 6:20 p.m. and question-and-answer time after that.
Feedback forms will be available, and the city will collect them until Feb. 17.
The City Council will review and discuss the feedback during a work session March 23.