The City of Houston's Solid Waste Department is getting some much-needed help to improve trash service and curb illegal dumping. The city broke ground Tuesday on a new $13.5 million transfer station located at 5711 Neches Street in Northeast Houston.
The 24,200 sq. ft. facility will be able to process up to 1,000 tons of municipal solid waste on a daily basis, improve the department’s operation, reduce the environmental impacts of route collection vehicles, and enhance the service delivery of curbside collection.
Solid waste director Mark Wilfalk said the station will also save waste truck drivers more time when it comes to disposing trash.
"Once those trucks fill up, they usually have to drive a few good little ways to go to a landfill to drop them off,” he said. "The purpose of this transfer station will allow these trucks to come here, drop their low back and then return to their routes in a more efficient time manner – and also will have better route coverage as well."
Mayor Sylvester said the state-of-the-art facility was built with drivers in mind.
"This driver-centric approach allows for quick and easy transfer of collected waste, ensuring their safety and higher productivity by shortening their travel time to disposal points," he said.
Houston City Council approved the construction in March of 2021 and construction will begin in mid-November. The facility is expected to be up and running by March 1, 2025.
The waste management facility planned for the northeast side could finally be part of a bigger solution. The City of Houston has been fighting illegal dumping across the city for years, but it is a major problem in Houston's Northeast. Mayor Sylvester Turner rolled out his One Clean Houston initiative earlier this year, as another tool to help clean up dump sites.
"The station will play a significant role and the One Clean Houston initiative," said Turner. "We are committed to keeping our beautiful city clean and free from illegal dumping. And together we are building a cleaner and greener future for Houston."
The city has stated on numerous occasions that it has contributed millions of dollars to tackle the issue of illegal dumping. Last December, Houston City Council approved $1.3 million for the solid waste department to perform weekly litter abatement services. But, the city said once the trash is picked up, residents would dump it back in the exact same spot.
A civil rights complaint was filed on behalf of SuperNeighborhood 48, which includes Trinity Gardens and Houston Garden in Northeast Houston, alleging the city of Houston was slow to respond to illegal dumping in communities of color. The complaint prompted the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate illegal dumping in the city. An analysis of 311 data from the city revealed response times in Trinity/Houston Gardens could take twice as long compared to neighborhoods like Upper Kirby.
District B Council Member Tarsha Jackson represents the area where the station is located. She said the station is an important asset to her district.
"This is just one way that we’re going to make sure that we keep our neighborhoods clean," she said.