Tuesday, March 5, 2024

114 West Elm Street
Graham, NC 27253
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Commissioners vote to expand landfill’s waste disposal area

The county’s board of commissioners has agreed to add another 10 acres to Alamance County’s landfill.

During a regularly-scheduled meeting on Monday, the commissioners voted 5-0 to give the landfill’s director Richard Hill the all-clear to proceed with this proposed expansion and also authorized Hill to draw nearly $7.4 million from the facility’s reserves to pay for this project, as well as other improvements to the landfill’s 536-acre site near Saxapahaw.

Hill told the commissioners that the construction of this 10-acre “cell” is a matter of some urgency for him and his staff due to the ever-accelerating rate that they’ve filled the 90 acres they’ve previously dug out for trash disposal.

“We are in the last 12 months of capacity,” he added. “When I first went down the landfill seven years ago, a good, high-volume day was volume was 350 tons. We now regularly do 600 to 700 tons [a day]…and that number is not going to go down.”

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Hill told the commissioners he also plans to use the requested funds to formally close a dump previously designated for construction and demolition debris and to begin work on a new access road for the landfill.

Hill told the commissioners that he has selected Baxter Johnson Contracting of Raleigh over two other bidders to handle the expansion. Johnson’s proposed rate of $400,000 an acre compares favorably with the cost estimate he and his colleagues previously received for the project, Hill said Monday.

“It’s gotten to be a very expensive process [due to] the cost of diesel and the cost of labor,” the landfill’s director conceded. “I was up in Buncombe County a couple months ago, and they were building a 10-acre cell for $1 million an acre.”

Hill assured the commissioners that the landfill has plenty of money on hand to cover the cost of Johnson’s proposed contract. Under state law, the landfill must maintain reserves that are not only separate from the county’s own general savings but replenished by the revenue that comes in from its own operations. Hill told the commissioners that, at the moment, these savings include some $12 million in unrestricted funds as well as another $1 million that has previously been earmarked for the new cell’s construction.

Hill projects that the new 10-acre cell will last about 10 years, based on current volumes, telling the commissioners the county could get another 60 to 65 years of use out of the entire landfill, which was originally given a life expectancy of 30 years when it opened for business in 1994.

Hill said the expansion should be complete and ready for use this summer, contingent upon weather during construction.

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