State contractor begins storm debris clean-up

-A A +A

Alabama company handling cleanup will concentrate first on Ky. 84 and U.S. 31E

By Linda Ireland

LaRue County is still digging out from under the debris left behind by the Jan. 27 ice storm.

And time is running out for residents to take advantage of a free drop-off site for downed limbs and trees. March 4 is the last day that LaRue County Fairgrounds on Greensburg Street will be available for debris drop-off, according to Judge-Executive Tommy Turner. After that date, residents are responsible for disposing of their own storm leftovers.

State begins clean-up

The state announced winning bids for debris clean-up last week and a contractor began work in Hodgenville Feb. 18.

Residents should pile brush and limbs from their property at the edge of the roadway for pickup, said solid waste coordinator Jill Gray.

Crews from TAG Grinding Service of Daviston, Ala., began working in the county along Ky. 84 Friday. That road, along with U.S. 31E, will be cleared first, said Gray.

“Those are the most dangerous and the most in need,” said Gray. “People should be very careful in driving – there are lots of places there is no room to get over.”

TAG had low bid of $6.50 per cubic yard of debris for LaRue County, according to a press release from the Kentucky Transportation Department.

TAG spokesperson Charlene Daniel said the company brought in additional equipment including excavators and roadside trimmers “to complete the work as quickly and efficiently as possible.” The contractor must be finished by April 6.

Six other contractors initially agreed “on the front end to work in LaRue County,” according to KTD spokesperson Chuck Wolfe. They were Hickey Enterprises LLC of Raywick; Virginia Turf Management of Norfolk, Va.; TFR Enterprises of Leander, Texas; Scotts Construction Company of Mt. Sterling; Hubbard Trucking Inc. of Flat Lick; and Three Deuces of Pearl River, La., according to a Feb. 13 press release.

Some of the contractors backed out, Wolfe said.

Statewide, the bids ranged from $3.95 per cubic yard in McCracken County to $6.55 in Lincoln County.

Although preference, “within reason,” was given to Kentucky companies, said Wolfe, several out-of-state companies had low bids.

“When the quotes came in, there were a couple from out-of-state who do this all the time and seem to have it down to a science,” said Wolfe. “They way underbid everyone else.”

Patty Dunaway, spokesperson for the District 4 KTC, said 23 companies accepted contracts statewide; 12 eventually agreed to work in the district.

“We assigned an area to each one,” she said.

State inspectors are accompanying the TAG employees as they work, to make sure the debris is compacted and a full load is collected before drop-off.

The work consists of removing fallen trees and branches from highway rights-of-way, as well as cutting leaning or overhanging trees that could constitute a hazard to motorists. Contractors will not pick up metal, plastic or wood products. Only one pass will be made along each highway, according to the press release. They will not go onto private property to remove limbs from yards or fields.

The work will require lane closures on some roads and delays on two-lane routes.

Contracts have been awarded in 78 counties certified as disaster areas by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The state is paying for the upfront costs of the debris removal.

“The volume of debris and the potential cost to remove it is overwhelming for many of our communities,” Gov. Steven L. Beshear said in a press release. “Some county judge-executives have told me that it would take a year to dispose of all the debris if they did not have extraordinary assistance.”

FEMA will reimburse the state 75 percent of the costs, and participating counties and cities will be required to cover 13 percent. The state will absorb the remaining 12 percent of the costs.

Some counties, such as Marion, opted out of the state’s debris clean-up program, according to The Lebanon Enterprise. Officials there said the “cost of participating in the state contract could be too high.”

The actual cost of LaRue’s clean-up is uncertain, said Turner.

“It’s impossible to determine our final cost,” Turner said. “We estimate we’re at about $50,000 plus right now on storm costs counting the overtime, fuel, equipment and disposal costs.”

Turner said one estimate set LaRue County’s debris at 60,000 cubic yards, based on 10-to-12 cubic yards per household. That could cost about $240,000 total for clean-up.

“This storm could easily cost us, in total, six figures after we have received all the funds from FEMA we’re eligible for,” he said.

Storm Clean-up Tips

•Residents should place storm debris at the edge of the roadway so contractors can pick it up. They will make one pass on each road. Residents will be responsible for the debris if they miss the pick-up.

•Residents may use the debris drop-off site at LaRue County Fairgrounds on Greensburg Street  through March 4. The fairgrounds is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays; and noon-5 p.m. Sundays. All times are tentative.

•Burning natural wood debris is legal; however if you decide to burn limbs, call dispatch at 358-9876 or 911 and report that you are having a controlled burn. Burn only between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.

•For more information about storm debris drop-off or burning, call Jill Gray at 358-9903.