Cape switching to automated leaf collection

Monday, April 30, 2012

Cape Girardeau is converting to a new automated leaf-collection program, perhaps as soon as this fall, that city officials expect to be better received by residents than the popular automated trash pickup was two years ago.

The new $150,000 system was announced at the Cape Girardeau City Council's annual retreat Friday, with Public Works director Tim Gramling saying the new program will offer at least six fall curbside pickups per household compared to just one.

"I don't want to seem arrogant, but I know from the years I've worked with it what people's frustrations are," Gramling said. "From the calls and complaints I get, this addresses virtually every one of those."

The system, which has already been ordered, is a unit that attaches to a truck that includes an arm and a hose that's mounted on a hydraulic unit that the driver controls with a joystick, Gramling said. The program only requires one

driver and one truck, he said, which is faster and more efficient than the existing system. The current leaf-pickup program requires six trucks, five manual leaf machines and as many as 30 full- and part-time employees.

"This will be very well received by the residents," Mayor Harry Rediger said, echoing the comments of several council members.

The current pickup, which generally takes place from October to December, uses trailer-mounted leaf vacuums that were pulled behind a dump truck. The driver would have to pull up to the curb and other employees would have to get out, rake the leaves so the vacuums could get to them and blow the leaves in a special bed in the back of the truck.

The sale of that equipment and the savings from seasonal help that will no longer be needed will help offset the cost of the new equipment, Gramling said. If the new equipment arrives in time, Gramling said, the program will be implemented this fall.

Some complaints that Gramling has heard is that the leaf-collection program starts too early before the leaves have a chance to fall. That left residents frustrated to see the city trucks collecting few leaves and then watch as the piles grew high later in the season. Gramling said that the new system will also mean more frequent pickups, at least six. Another community using automated leaf pickup is visiting 5,500 homes per week.

"I really think the residents are going to like this," Gramling said.

smoyers@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

2007 Southern Expressway, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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