County waste facility to get new $6.9M operations center

A $6.9 million construction project approved Tuesday by county commissioners is designed to update systems, improve employee safety and increase productivity at the Montgomery County Solid Waste District Transfer and Recycling Facility, according to county officials.

The centerpiece of the new phase is a centralized operations hub for the campus first built on in 1962, said Pat Turnbull, Montgomery County Environmental Services director.

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“The operations center itself is about mitigating some risks and finding some efficiencies,” Turnbull said.

Operational staff are now spread out in multiple locations from the administration building, to the maintenance building, to the tipping floor and others, he said. The new building site is mid-campus near the transfer station tipping floor just west of the scale complex.

The new 8,490-square-foot building will house six offices and conference, break and training rooms. The building will also have women’s and men’s locker rooms, a server room, mechanical rooms and storage. Included in the construction phase is a nearby concrete parking lot for up to 70 light duty and employee vehicles and spots for 20 transfer tractor trailers with electric heater block connections.

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The 71-acre campus will also get redundant and backup feeds for electrical and computer systems that include processing credit card payments, necessary because the facility is one natural disaster away from being knocked offline when it’s needed most, Turnbull said.

“Should the power feed go down to this campus when you have a major windstorm where there’s a lot of debris, this is where all of that will come,” he said. “If we had lost power to this facility when hurricane Ike came through, that would have really slowed us down or brought us to a standstill.”

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An aged, cinder-block building that houses offices and locker rooms near the tipping floor will be removed due to a longtime concern, Turnbull said.

“All it would take is one fell swoop of the crane and that whole setup could come tumbling down,” he said. “It’s a safety hazard. So we wanted to reinvest in the center of campus.”

Seventy county employees currently work at the site including seven administrators and 63 others working full time in operations.

The project will be funded through tipping fees and annual Montgomery County Solid Waste District fees charged to property owners and businesses. According to the waste district, tipping fees were expected to account for about 55 percent of its $22.5 million projected 2017 revenue.

Monarch Construction Company, which submitted the lowest of four bids, was selected to complete the work expected to take up to two years, according to the county.

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