Trucks hauling waste to the city’s Noble Hill Sanitary Landfill are the source of garbage along Missouri Route 13 north of Springfield, according to Jeanie Sullivan, who addressed Springfield City Council about the issue at its meeting yesterday.
Sullivan raised the issue of trash flying from improperly tarped vehicles en route to the landfill. Sullivan is not a resident of Springfield but lives in Greene County on Farm Road 94.
“I know that it’s a state problem, because that’s where the trash lands on the road, and it’s the state’s responsibility to get it cleaned up, but basically I’m here to talk about prevention,” Sullivan said.
She shared photographs with council of roll-off trucks that she described as improperly tarped. The landfill does require tarps, but she said her photos showed vehicles on which tarps had been used incorrectly, allowing trash to blow out of them.
She suggested the city require the landfill to reject loads that do not have tarps in place.
“The trash along the highway’s coming from somewhere, and it’s not the tourists that travel through the area. They’re not throwing it out their cars,” she said.
She added that as a customer who pays $54 each month to have her trash removed, she expects it to get from her house to the landfill and not end up along the side of the road. In addition, some of the trash ultimately ends up in rivers and streams.
Sullivan noted that the Missouri Department of Transportation can’t control everything that goes down the highway, but the city can control what goes across the scale at the landfill.
Councilmember Craig Hosmer told Sullivan she came to the right place.
“We do have a city code, ordinance, that says you have to tarp any load, whether it’s trash or otherwise, and I think sometimes there’s people that don’t abide by the law, but we should do a better job of enforcing that,” he said.
City Manager Jason Gage agreed with Sullivan that the issue is a problem.
“We talk a lot about quality of place, but you can’t have quality of place if you have trash strewn along roadway corridors,” he said.
Gage added that it is insufficient for the city to use volunteers to pick up the trash.
Gage said he suspects the city may need to tweak its ordinance to penalize haulers that contribute to the litter problem.
“Certainly, we will look towards the guidance of council, perhaps a committee if we need to do that,” he said.
Sullivan persisted beyond her initial remarks with a number of suggestions, like for offending haulers to be required to clean up the roads, or for taxpayers to be given credits for cleanup efforts or for maintaining clean yards.
Councilmember Richard Ollis agreed that Route 13 is a mess, but he said litter also is apparent at his business on Sunshine Street.
“Because we’ve been there for a long, long time, I’ve noticed a steady, steady increase in the amount and the kinds of trash that are in our front yard,” he said.
He said he appreciates the city’s Clean Green Springfield initiative, a citywide cleanup that in the past has attracted more than 1,000 volunteers. Gage had announced at the start of the meeting that another community cleanup would be held this spring.
“Frankly, I’m not sure it’s enough. In fact, I don’t think it’s enough,” Ollis said.
Local stream assessments by the James River Basin Partnership estimate that there are more than 600,000 pieces of trash in Springfield streams, 60% of which are plastic, according to the city’s Clean Green Springfield website.
Hosmer suggested police or landfill personnel could cite haulers at the landfill.
Gage said a law review is necessary to determine what the city’s options are.
“All options are on the table,” he said.
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