The Waco City Council approved a $316,000 contract Tuesday that represents a small piece of what consultants have said could be the costliest part of the decision to build a new landfill near Axtell instead of next to the operational landfill off Old Lorena Road. The contract with SCS Engineers covers engineering, permitting and preliminary designs for a transfer station at University Parks Drive and Raddle Road, where trash trucks will deliver waste to be compacted before being loaded on semis for the trip out to the Axtell-area landfill now making its way through regulatory approvals.

Officials did not present updated cost estimates Tuesday for the construction and operation of the transfer station. But in 2017, SCS engineers working to help the city identify alternatives to the Old Lorena Road site for a new landfill said construction of a transfer station could cost $26 million. Labor, fuel and maintenance could cost another $4.5 million annually, the consultant said at the time.

The city has spent $6.5 million buying 1,426 acres near TK Parkway and Highway 31, 502 acres for the new landfill itself and the rest for a buffer. Despite land acquisition costs, officials have said the addition of a transfer station would be the driving factor in increasing residential trash bills by as much as 84% compared to sticking with the Old Lorena Road site. That estimate was based on three undisclosed properties, and it is unclear whether the Axtell site was under consideration when that estimate was formed.

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