Flathead County commissioners recently green-lighted the first $2 million of the project as a capital improvement outlay for the Flathead County Solid Waste District in the county’s fiscal 2020 budget. The remaining $1 million for the second phase of landfill construction will be penciled into the fiscal 2021 budget.
According to Public Works Director, Dave Prunty, the bulk of the project at the landfill entails reconstructing the entrance to the landfill and a shifting of all trash and recycling stations, with the exception of the junk-vehicle area for the time being, from the south side of the entrance to the north side.
The project includes resurfacing, clearing of the land on the north side, additional containers and more. Prunty said the move is largely due to the landfill expanding and encroaching on various drop-off sites. “As the landfill grows, it’s eventually going to move into most of that south area. So we wanted to make the shift well before that happens,” Prunty said. “A landfill is a good indicator of a growing economy. So with an economy like ours, which is booming, naturally there is going to be more waste.”
Located off U.S. 93 north of Kalispell, the new landfill point of entry will be split into three lanes in an effort to better organize incoming traffic. Prunty said the three lanes will divide into a commercial truck lane, a general contractor lane and one for the container sites and recycling. “One of the main drivers for this project is that in recent years we have seen the entry line to get to the scale sometimes back up onto the actual highway into traffic,” Prunty said.
The scale house and weigh-in and weigh-out scales, which every vehicle has to individually approach, will also be upgraded. Prunty said the system in place now is slow and outdated on the digital side of things, which sometimes causes a headache for employees and a backup in traffic.
The first phase of the construction will begin July 8 and is expected to be mostly wrapped up before winter. Prunty said the construction team plans on working after hours, beginning at 5 p.m. most days, so time delays moving in and out of the facility should be limited. Prunty said when finished, the upgrades should withstand the Flathead Valley’s growth for at least the next two decades. “This is a big project, both in scope and dollar figure,” Prunty said. “Our landfill has space for 100 years and we look at a 20-year horizon for a project like this.”