If you think that you can drive a garbage truck right off the showroom floor like you would a new car then, you'd be dead wrong.
White Salmon's new Peterbilt garbage truck has been mostly idle for approximately two months now since its arrival to the city. Public Works Director Patrick Munyan says that part of the delay derives from the fact that the company the city bought the truck from put on the wrong rims, despite explicit specifications.
Munyan said that truck was supposed to have steel rims instead of aluminum, but the company (which Munyan said was from Portland but did not have the specifics readily available) put on aluminum ones instead. This difference is significant due to the fact that steel wheels can support more weight than aluminum ones. Unfortunately, Munyan said that switching the rims out on a garbage truck takes much longer than it does with a car, due to the complexity of the wheels.
"Taking the rims off takes time," Munyan explained. "It's not something you can go down to Les Schwab and just have done."
Luckily for White Salmon, the company has agreed to switch out the rims at no cost to the city. Munyan, however, is somehwat disappointed and said that the Public Works Department originally planned to have the rig running its garbage route by now.
Another reason for the delay arose from the need to trim trees lining the city streets to provide enough clearance for the truck. Munyan said that the city had no desire to damage its new rig by running into low-hanging branches. He also explained that the trees needed to be trimmed to bring city streets up to code anyway and the need to do so was not solely based on the truck's clearance requirements.
The purchase of the truck -- which is one of four that the city now has in its possession -- was approved during an Aug. 10 White Salmon City Council meeting by means of an authorized interfund loan of $137,186.60 from Water Reserves to Refuse Collection. The loan is payable over three years at 0.5 percent interest.
Of the four trucks, one will be surplussed. The remaining two consist of a pickup with a small dump on the back that is used for picking up waste in the alleys that are too large for the big garbage trucks to travel. The other is an extra garbage truck in case the primary rig breaks down.
"You always want to have a backup truck," Munyan advised.
Munyan expects that the truck will be in service by February, but city workers first must be trained on the machine, which requires that its operator stand up while he or she drives. In the next month or so, Munyan said that the city of White Salmon will be setting up garbage cans on a flat street -- most likely in Bingen -- and practicing picking them up with the truck's control arm before they make the vehicle fully operational.
"We don't want to cause a mess," Munyan explained with a chuckle.