Investigative Series Part One: Allied Waste’s Days Might Be Numbered

March 10, 2008

Allied Waste’s days in North Escambia will come to an end soon if Emerald Coast Utilities Authority board member Larry Walker gets his way. Today, NorthEscambia.com begins a multi-part investigative series looking at Allied Waste and their service to the citizens of the North Escambia area. We will take a look at Allied’s service through comments both good and bad from dozens of Allied customers. And we will learn where Walker and ECUA stand on Allied Waste service in North Escambia.

The Background

Allied Waste currently has a contract that extends until 2010 for residential garbage pickup north of Ten Mile Road for 11,000 households. But ECUA district five board member Walker is pressing his fellow ECUA board members to end that contract sooner. Back in November, the board voted to purchase 11,000 automated collection garbage cans instead of their usual 2,000 per year in anticipation of possibly taking over the Allied contract.

ECUA has already purchased seven new garbage collection trucks in anticipation of taking over the north end household collection Allied Waste routes. If that does not happen, the trucks will be used to replace aging trucks in the ECUA fleet over the coming years.

“With added financial pressures of Allied’s commercial operation, it is even less likely than before that Allied will commit the additional resources that are needed,” Walker said in a letter to the ECUA board back in November. “I think it possible that Allied will choose to walk away from its Escambia County operations, both commercial and residential.”

So far, Allied has not walked away from their contract in North Escambia, and Walker continues to press the ECUA to pull the Allied contract.

The Request To Pull The Contract

At ECUA’s last board meeting in late February, Walker made what he termed a “spirited pitch for termination of Allied’s franchise by the ECUA”. But board members did not vote to pull Allied’s contract.

But Walker does not plan to give up on ending the contact. He has carefully documented the emails and phone calls he’s received about Allied’s service in North Escambia. NorthEscambia.com has obtained several of those documents, and we will share those comments, both good and bad, with you in this multi-part series.

The Trip to Walnut Hill

Back on February 23, Walker traveled from the area of the Scenic Hills Country Club on Nine Mile Road, to Walnut Hill, to Century, to the area of the Ashton Brosnaham Park off Chemstrand Road and then back to the area of the Scenic Hills Country Club.

Along the way, he noted Allied Waste containers that has missing or damaged lids. Such containers would be replaced by ECUA upon a request by one of their customers or when noticed by an ECUA driver.

In the document obtained by NorthEscambia.com, Walker notes that his trip was made on a Saturday, which is a not a typical Allied Waste pickup day. As a result, there were few containers still out by the roads he traveled. But he notated nearly two dozen cans with missing or damaged lids.

The Missing Lids and a Wooden Wheel

Cans in the 9900 block of Highway 97 in Walnut Hill, the 3300 block of Highway 4 and the 4600 block of Highway 4 were among the first he noticed with missing or damaged lids.

In the 5800 block of Vaughn Road, Walker spoke to residents with damaged cans. They reported that they are sometimes skipped all together by Allied, and they complained about loose trash blowing out of the Allied truck.

In the 2500 block of Highway 4, the resident also complained about missed pickups. In his notes, Walker wrote: “She stated that her container is blown over by speeding traffic; that, because of the missing lid, dogs and wild animals are able to pull garbage from the container and carry it as far as 300 yards downhill to a creek; and that she has to pick up garbage along the entire 300-yard stretch of hillside road in order to clean up the mess that is due to the missing lid.”

People in the 4500 block of North Century Boulevard complained that the lid had been broken off their can for one to two months. A resident in the 2900 block of North Century Boulevard complained that the can is always turned over. The wheel is missing from his can as is the lid, and he replaced it with a crude plywood wheel. On Roach Road, a resident told Walker that she has tried at least six times to call Allied about her container’s missing lid, but always she always receives a recorded message before being placed on an endless hold.

One resident on Ronda Road reported that the lid had been missing from their container for a year or more; another said their lid has been missing for months. Another on Orby Street reported called Allied for months about her can’s missing lid.

“I saw far more Allied containers with missing/broken lids than I had expected to see—and far more, I think, than I should have seen,” Walker wrote in his presentation to the ECUA board.

Your Thoughts, And the Series Continues

The complaints Walker has received about Allied Waste include far more than just broken or missing lids. On Tuesday, NorthEscambia.com will take look at some of those complaints. As this series continues, we will take a look at some of the positive comments about Allied Waste on Wednesday.

If you would like to add your comments about Allied Waste’s service (good or bad) in North Escambia, email your comments to news@northescambia.com. Please include your name and your address. In our story, will will only use the area in which you live (such as “the 13000 block of Highway 97″) and will not print your name. You can also send photographs of your can to the email address.

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