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27 April 2016

Simple project to reduce truck queuing at a landfill requires planning and forethought

Sonne-DavidI recently worked on a project to solve a truck queuing issue at a landfill facility. Trucks were experiencing increased weigh-in wait times, even though the landfill already had one dedicated inbound scale and an existing outbound scale configured to handle inbound truck traffic if necessary. Unfortunately, there was only one inbound lane to the scales – and this created a choke point.

So, our goal was to provide the landfill with a new fully automated inbound scale and reduce inbound truck queuing for pre-approved repeat customers. Simple, right? Yes and no.

Aerial view of layout

Aerial view of layout

In theory, the project was straightforward – place a scale and provide a bypass lane to the new scale to improve inbound truck traffic flow. But before doing this, our planning and design process had to answer the following questions:

• Where is the ideal location for the new scale?
• What are the existing conditions that we have to deal with?
• What is the desired bypass lane length leading to the automated scale?
• Will the location cause traffic conflict or create the potential for an accident?
• What budget do we have to work with?

The existing site conditions were not ideal, making the placement of the scale challenging. My team and I looked at several layout options to see how they worked for truck maneuvering, truck queuing, grading and construction costs. We ultimately selected the option that was optimized for these parameters. The location we selected for the new scale was adjacent to the existing inbound truck lane’s edge of pavement, so it required earthwork to build an embankment for the scale and bypass lane.


Truck using the automated scale

Ideally a scale should be placed in a relatively flat area with 1 percent slope, but our location had an existing grade change of over 3.5 percent. This meant we needed an extended concrete ramp to accommodate the grade change to the new scale, as well as curb and gutter along the edge of existing pavement to convey stormwater runoff to a drainage structure.

Once we completed the site plan and design we sent it out to bid to various contractors for the earthwork, concrete, scale, and electrical work. All these modifications to accommodate existing conditions added to the cost of the project, but the benefits of the end result outweighed the added construction costs for the selected location. In the end, the scale location we selected made the most sense and trucks utilizing the automated scale are not caught up in the queue of traffic waiting for the inbound scale.

Close-up of the automated scale

Close-up of the automated scale

If you are ever faced with a similar project (at least in the colder regions of the country), one thing I recommend you keep in mind would be to begin preliminary site plans and develop the final site engineering plans early on in the winter season. This allows enough time to coordinate a schedule for the various contractors during the busy construction season – because pouring concrete in the fall season is a whole other story.

Have you had to deal with truck queuing issues at your site and if so, how did you handle it?

David Sonne is a Project Manager with more than 12 years of professional experience in design, permitting and construction of commercial and environmental facilities.

Categories: Landfill Engineering and Design, Solid Waste, Transfer/Recycling/Processing Facilities
Posted By David Sonne at 12:03 PM  |  1 Comment on Simple project to reduce truck queuing at a landfill requires planning and forethought

One Response to “Simple project to reduce truck queuing at a landfill requires planning and forethought”

  1. It is interesting how a small problem like this can completely stop a construction project. These particular people were lucky to have you and your team get everything moving again. Do you have any tips or information about on-site fueling? This is one thing that I think really helps to solve the little bumps in a project that slow or stop progress.

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