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A much-needed new sanitation truck has been purchased by the City of Jonesboro, and Sanitation Department supervisors say its capabilities will help continue efficient service along residential routes.
Purchased at a cost of $253,600, the 2017 Peterbilt truck has a Heil packer body and is 38 feet long with a height of 12½ feet. Like others in the city fleet, it can hold 12 tons per load and will be emptied at Legacy Landfill twice a day. The Sanitation Department tries to buy one new truck a year but did not purchase one in fiscal 2016.
“We need to purchase an automated truck every year,” Sanitation Director Donny Gibson said. “If we don’t, our budget repair expense is higher, we have a hard time completing routes, and we cannot successfully handle the extra collections during a holiday.”
The new 2017 Peterbilt replaces an out of service truck purchased in 2007 that most recently has been used to provide parts for the rest of the sanitation fleet. It will be sold at auction.
The new truck also allows the city to take another older truck out of daily rotation.
“The truck we will now use as a backup is a 2012, and it has over 80,000 miles,” Department Supervisor Cindy Schweitzer said. “These types of trucks start and stop so much that it wears on the transmissions, the brakes, motors and tires. We use a lot of money every year on tires and brakes.”
Six trucks run daily routes in Jonesboro, eight on Thursdays, and 10 during holiday weeks when double routes are required.
The quality of drivers also is a factor in getting the most out of a truck, Schweitzer said.
“An experienced driver is a precious value,” she said. “Our route supervisor can empty a can in three to four seconds and collect around 1,200 cans a day. But he was one of the first automated truck drivers, so he has lots of experience.
“We are always looking at better training of current and new employees. Being an automated driver takes a special skill: you drive on the wrong side of the truck; you have people around you upset and in a hurry and honking at you because they are late or in a hurry. You have to operate the truck, drive the truck safely; you also have to watch high-line wires, mailboxes and kids. It is a stressful job.”