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Napa's south county "dump" looks to cut wait times
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Napa's south county "dump" looks to cut wait times

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Plans to build another scale at Devlin Road Transfer Station may sound mundane, but could be a big deal to Napans who go to dump old furniture and other garbage there.

That’s because each vehicle is weighed before entering and leaving the transfer station, be it dump truck or hatchback. The line to reach the sole outbound scale and pay the dumping fee can top an hour on a busy day.

Adding a second outbound scale should mean faster service for the public at a facility that basically serves as the south county dump.

“We’re not happy about the fact our customers have to wait in long lines, so we’re taking some action,” said Richard Luthy, Executive Director of the Napa-Vallejo Waste Management Authority.

Devlin Road Transfer Station is located in the airport industrial area between Napa and American Canyon. It serves as a temporary resting place for garbage that is later hauled to Potrero Hills Landfill near Suisun City.

On a morning about a month ago, the wait to enter the transfer station grounds was a matter of minutes. The wait to leave was almost an hour-and-a-half.

People heaved their garbage into the concrete pit inside the vast transfer station shed and entered the long exit line. A few dozen cars, pickups and trucks crawled along a dirt path that went around mountains of debris tended by heavy equipment.

This was a close-up look at the garbage industry in action. A water truck tamping down the dust passed the line at such close range that it almost spattered vehicles with its spray.

One car overheated on this hot day, adding to the wait. For those who came to dump only a few items, the quest to pay a minimum $40 fee turned out to be epic.

The line ended on the steel-deck outbound scale near the scale house building. The outbound weight subtracted from the inbound weight shows how much garbage was dumped. An employee in the building talked through a window to drivers, passing out the paperwork and taking care of the fees.

Patrick Allen owns Allen’s Hauling in Napa. His company has an account with the transfer station, so his vehicles are able to go before the general public is allowed in and the long line begins.

But if a trip has to be made later, the wait can be an hour and longer during a busy time, Allen said. He likes the idea of an extra scale.

“We’ll be super happy,” he said. “We’ve begged them for years.”

About 300 to 400 customers use the Devlin Road Transfer Station on a typical day, Luthy said. The number has risen amid the COVID-19 shelter-at-home order.

“I think it may be because people have been home and cleaning up and had time to do some projects they had put off,” he said.

State and county permits for the transfer station require recording how much material is brought in. The way to do that is weighing vehicles as they enter and leave, Luthy said.

The Napa-Vallejo Waste Management Authority has called for contractor bids by July 16 to install the additional scale and build a scale house. The engineer’s estimate is $1.3 million.

Work should begin in July and take about 60 working days, Luthy said.

Devlin Road Transfer Station opened in 1995, after American Canyon landfill closed. Initially, garbage left there was loaded onto trains on nearby railroad tracks and transported to an east Washington landfill. That practice was discontinued in favor of trucking garbage to regional landfills.

You can reach Barry Eberling at 256-2253 or beberling@napanews.com.

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Napa County Reporter

Barry Eberling covers Napa County government, transportation, the environment and general assignments. He has worked for the Napa Valley Register since fall 2014 and previously worked 27 years for the Daily Republic of Fairfield.

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