City workers in Columbus, Ga. pleaded with city council members this week to replace garbage trucks which they say are no longer safe to drive.
Columbus Public Works reports that two trucks have already gotten into accidents because of component failures related to fatigue, according to the ledger-enquirer.com. About 80 percent of the fleet is seven years old. Several other refuse trucks in the city’s fleet are twice that age.
On one truck, a steering column snapped sending the truck careening into a vehicle parked nearby. No one was hurt.
In a second incident, a wheel came off of a moving truck and went flying down a highway. No one was hurt.
Public works director Pat Biegler says that his department needs 62 new trucks and that 56 of those are no longer safe to drive. Stress fractures on the 56,000-pound trucks are becoming so common that they’re sent out on a daily basis for weld repairs.
“The trucks are dangerous. If things start going wrong with metal fatigue and other problems, you’ve got a 56,000-pound vehicle out there,” Biegler told the city council Tuesday night. “If the steering column snaps, that becomes a significant concern.
“I’ll tell you, it’s one of the things that keeps me awake at night, wondering about what might happen out there. We’ve been very lucky so far, but we need to take that very seriously.”
City council members said Wednesday that they had no idea that the trucks were in such bad shape. Although the council did not take any decisive action, one councilman said the trucks would now become a priority for the city, which borders Phenix City, Ala.