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RTL | Recycling | Transfer Stations | Landfills

Transfer Stations
The Revitalization of a Transfer Station Complex
Lancaster county soLid Waste ManageMent authority (LCSWMA) manages the municipal solid waste from Lancaster County, PA homes and businesses, serving approximately 520,000 residents. Once private haulers deliver the waste to LCSWMA, the organization employs a multi-step approach to trash disposal and processing, called an Integrated System. This system saves significant landfill capacity and generates enough clean, renewable energy (electricity) to power approximately one in six Lancaster County homes. LCSWMA’s transfer station complex—including a permanent, drivethrough household hazardous waste (HHW) facility and its administrative offices—performs a critical role in the Integrated System. It serves as a central drop-off location for waste haulers who collect refuse, certain recyclable materials and construction/demolition waste within Lancaster County. • Improve operating efficiency • Separate commercial haulers from self-haulers • Improve site safety for customers and employees • Increase permit capacity from 1,600 tons per day to 2,200 tons per day • Enhance facility aesthetics The scope of the project involved expanding the site footprint, remediating an acquired brownfield site and redesigning the entire transfer station complex to improve traffic flow and overall operating efficiency, including: 1) constructing a new 40,000 square foot, top load transfer station building, 2) constructing a 17,000 square foot small vehicle dropoff facility, 3) replacing the scale house, 4) constructing a separate facility for HHW collection, 5) constructing a separate facility for equipment maintenance and 6) improving the administrative office façade and interior space.

LCSWMA’s transfer station complex is permitted to process up to 2,200 The previous transfer station was built in 1968 and tons of waste per day. Each building on the complex features an all underwent two additions over the years to try and brick facade with beautifully manicured landscapes. Photos courtesy of accommodate growth.

The new scale house offers automated features which reduce onsite delivery times for haulers.

Project History: A Time of Rapid Growth
In the late 1990s, LCSWMA faced the challenge of accommodating an escalating volume of waste delivered to its transfer station. With the population of Lancaster County rapidly growing, the facility approached capacity. The old compactor design, initially installed in 1968, could no longer efficiently manage the waste. Over the years, the building underwent two additions to accommodate the growth, but it was evident that the complex required a complete revitalization in order to serve the county for the next 30 years. Thus, LCSWMA began the ardent process of revitalizing its transfer station complex.

Transfer Complex Project Costs
Pre-Construction (2000 – 2004) Site Remediation Architect Engineering Real Estate Acquisition Other (consulting, testing, permits, fees) Construction (2005 – 2008) $364,200 $46,140 $1,538,160 $1,181,540 $995,080 $4,125,120 $26,572,500

Project Goals: Expand Capacity and Increase Efficiency
Critical to the project’s success was determining ideal goals and objectives for the complex, both in terms of expanding the facility for processing capacity and designing for maximum operating efficiency. Bob Zorbaugh, LCSWMA’s Chief Operating Officer, explains, “We established very clear-cut goals. It’s critical for anyone looking at an expansion project to understand your objectives and then design a facility to accomplish those goals.” LCSWMA’s project goals included: • Improve customer delivery efficiencies • Reduce operating costs for the complex

Equipment Purchases $2,758,000 Transfer Trailers, Loaders, Excavators, Etc. Total Project Cost $33,455,620


WasteAdvantage Magazine January 2012

RTL | Recycling | Transfer Stations | Landfills
“Our existing facility was very small, occupying only 5 acres. We understood that to successfully expand the complex and improve efficiency, we needed to acquire additional properties. Those properties were available next to our current location. One of which was an old brownfield site that had an unused, heavy solvent tank farm,” says Zorbaugh. “If we decided on a completely different, new transfer station site, that would have required an extensive permitting process, in turn causing more difficulties. Therefore, we thought it best to develop the brownfield site instead.” One major challenge with the project involved maintaining current operations during construction. “It wasn’t an option to shut down or move operations during the construction process,” says Zorbaugh. “We devised a plan so daily operations and construction renovations could happen simultaneously.” LCSWMA overcame this hurdle by developing a timeline that divided the construction sequence and facility renovation into three phases over three years.

Transfer sTaTion ComPlex ProjeCT aChievemenTs
• Gold Award for Transfer Station Excellence from SWANA • Envision Smart Growth Leadership Award • Historic Preservation Trust Award for New Construction • ABC National Construction

Project Preparation: Navigating Hurdles
The first order of business was to acquire neighboring properties vital to the expansion. This acquisition occurred over an eight-year span (1997 – 2005). Concurrently, during the last two years of the property acquisition (2004 – 2005), LCSWMA also focused on project design. The Authority met with township officials to review the project details and shared their plans with the community during a public meeting. “Our transfer station is located on one of the main gateways into Lancaster, with a prestigious college near us on one side and a prominent health campus nearby on the other—both with beautiful buildings, stunning architecture and a predominating use of brick facade. Our desire was to construct a complex that complemented the streetscape. Something the community would be proud of, we would be proud of and would enhance this whole corridor,” says Zorbaugh. “Our transfer operations have been located at this site for decades, and the community was truly excited for the project. We presented the architectural renderings and received positive feedback from the community.”

Phase I

Beginning in 2005, Phase I involved Award to Wohlsen the construction of a new HHW Construction for their work on facility on the expanded site. The the transfer station 8,000 square foot building features drive-through convenience, material storage and a semi-automated paint can processing area. The facility went from serving 6,000 customers per year, to more than 43,000 customers per year, due to its prominent location (visibility), ease of use, accessibility and free service. “Once residents began using the HHW facility, word spread and use of the facility significantly increased. In fact, we recently

WasteAdvantage Magazine January 2012


RTL | Recycling | Transfer Stations | Landfills
expanded the hours to open one hour earlier on weekdays to accommodate residents who use the facility on their way to work. We’ve received a substantial amount of positive feedback,” says Zorbaugh. A new equipment maintenance facility was constructed on the expanded site as well. The 11,000 square foot building includes two equipment maintenance bays, a tire room, a truck wash and employee locker/lunch room. In addition, a new fuel island was constructed near the maintenance facility and a new scale house was constructed with the latest technology, while its new location supported the changing traffic pattern for the complex. After completion of the new HHW facility and equipment maintenance facility, those operations were moved from the back half of the administration building to their new locations, so that work could begin on constructing the new transfer station and renovating the administrative office. The transition took place over a weekend, and by Monday morning the facilities were open and operational.

The 40,000 square foot tipping floor manages three different waste streams: refuse, construction/ demolition and single-stream recyclables.

Phase II
In 2006, Phase II began with the demolition of the previous HHW facility and equipment maintenance facility to clear enough space for the larger transfer station building. Zorbaugh explains that, during construction, they brought in 80,000 cubic yards of structural fill to raise the elevation of the tipping floor (a process that took months) in order to create a tunnel for top-loading transfer trucks. While the old transfer station was still operational, construction began on the new building. “At one point, we only accepted municipal refuse and diverted the construction/ demolition material to our landfill. We made this critical decision in order to complete construction of the transfer station,” says Zorbaugh. “We incentivized our haulers by reducing the tipping fee to offset their extra costs of traveling to the landfill. The traffic to the transfer station lightened and allowed the construction crew to finish the work.” Features of the new transfer building include: • 40,000 square foot tipping floor • Three loading chutes • Two-lane truck loading tunnel • Onsite employee offices and facilities • Large training room with viewing area of the tipping floor The new transfer station processes approximately 1,250 tons per day, averages 293 inbound vehicles per day and sends out 62 transfer trailers each day. The tipping floor manages three different waste streams in one building: refuse, construction/demolition and single-stream recyclables. One of the unique features of the new transfer station is a training room with floor-toceiling windows that offer a view of the tipping floor and the entire transfer operation. The training room provides a safe, clean environment for training seminars, tours and meetings. Visitors can learn about the transfer station operations in a climate-controlled environment, removed from the dust and smell inherent to any waste transfer operation. When LCSWMA designed the new complex, they didn’t intend on managing recyclables. However, during the construction process, the private company that handled recycling for the county informed LCSWMA that they were getting out of the business. Since haulers picking up recyclables needed a place to deliver their material, LCSWMA felt that, as a public agency managing waste, they could fulfill this service. After evaluating the new operations, LCSWMA designated one of the pits on the tipping floor for single-stream recycling material. Although initially challenging, managing recyclable materials is now part of LCSWMA’s everyday routine. The new transfer station offers such customer delivery efficiency that many haulers decreased the amount of trucks out on the road. By automating some of the scale house procedures, drivers reduce their onsite delivery time. This

also lessens queuing issues during peak delivery times. “Customer delivery efficiency was one of our primary goals for this project. The result has been a big plus for the hauling community,” says Zorbaugh. Phase II also incorporated renovation of the administrative office, including several interior improvements and a new façade. An interesting architectural element of the office building features two of the original roof trusses salvaged from the rear portion of the structure before it was demolished to create space for the larger transfer building. “The front of the administrative office is unique and often commented upon by visitors to the complex,” says Zorbaugh. “It’s instantly recognized by the community.”

Phase III
From 2007 into early 2008, Phase III involved construction of the small vehicle drop-off facility. Prior to its construction, small vehicles and commercial haulers shared the same tipping floor space at the transfer station. This required a significant amount of manpower to ensure safety for all customers. One of the project’s goals was to separate the small vehicle traffic from the commercial hauler traffic. “Small haulers are popular in Lancaster County. We also have many residents who drive a short distance and bring their waste in trailers or pickup trucks. In fact, this type of business comprises 20 percent of all deliveries to the transfer station complex. We needed to create an efficient plan for this situation. We designed a miniature version of our transfer station for small vehicle waste deliveries. The facility offers adequate space and shelter from inclement weather when delivering waste. Only pickup trucks, cars or vans are permitted to use the facility. A compliance officer directs residents where to go and assists with the unloading process. It’s a great experience for customers,” says Zorbaugh. Focused on creating a comfortable, safe environment for small haulers, the 17,000 square foot facility contains no heavy equipment. There are 11 unloading positions, as well as space for separation of recyclable tires, metals and appliances. Before construction of this facility, as the daily volume of refuse grew, self-haulers waited up to an hour during peak times, causing extra expense. Now, self-haulers are in and out within an average of 12 to 15 minutes.

Project Cost: A Worthwhile Investment
Total project expenditure for the revitalized transfer station complex came in just under $33.5 million dollars (see Transfer Complex Project Costs sidebar, page 44). From that total, approximately 12 percent was invested in pre-construction expenses like site remediation, architect fees, engineering fees, real estate acquisition, testing, permitting, etc. Approximately 80 percent was invested in the actual construction costs and around 8 percent was invested in equipment purchases like transfer trailers, loaders, excavators, etc.


WasteAdvantage Magazine January 2012

RTL | Recycling | Transfer Stations | Landfills
In addition to the operational improvements gained by the transfer station complex revitalization, LCSWMA experienced a return on its investment in the form of additional efficiency improvements, such as: • Reduced facility personnel needed for the site by six (from 26 to 20) • Reduced trailer inventory from 47 steel ejectors to 21 aluminum walking floors • Improved outbound payloads by 23 percent • Reduced LCSWMA truck trips by 3,200 per year • Reduced internal operation costs by $2.60 per ton • Reduced peak hauler waiting time by an average of 35 minutes (70 percent reduction) take. In summary, know when you’re going to exceed your current capabilities, plan ahead for that and determine what you’ll need for future growth.” Another lesson learned from this project involves transitioning your team into the new system. Many of LCSWMA’s employees worked with the old transfer station system for 25+ years. Although there was adequate training on the new system and processes, the Authority experienced a significant learning curve. “It was a tremendous organizational change and, at first, it was difficult for people to work through the new system (i.e., redefined job responsibilities). When you change facilities, you change operations,” says Zorbaugh. “From the hauler’s perspective, they loved it; however, from an internal perspective, the different processes and varied skillset requirements for the new operation was problematic.” Regarding equipment, Zorbaugh explains that you should make selections that provide flexibility and can manage peak deliveries. Plan ahead for equipment purchases and synchronize their arrival prior to the facility opening. Allow adequate time for advanced training and ensure that the machines operate as required. Backup equipment should be available and onsite if malfunctions occur. In short, the operation must continue no matter what hurdle you face. Since final completion of the renovation in 2008, the new transfer station complex—permitted to process up to 2,200 tons of waste per day—has received nothing but excellent reviews from the public, from customers and from employees. Zorbaugh says, “It’s painful to remember the old way in which we managed waste at the transfer station. This revitalization proved to be an excellent decision and a worthwhile investment.” | WA For more information, contact Bob Zorbaugh at or visit

Lessons Learned: Planning is Key
Looking back on this project, Zorbaugh stresses that any organization considering a similar revitalization should first review permitting concerns and any state or local regulatory zoning issues. It is critical to know a schedule for when particular components of a project need approval. Then, design a timeline around those target dates. Upon completion of the new design, submit permit requests to the appropriate regulatory agencies. Once the design is approved, establish your construction timeline. “Set your final completion date and work backwards from there. Your engineer should help you determine the scope and complexities of the actual construction process. Plan for the revitalization in advance so the construction is complete before your haulers are experiencing long wait times and your facility capacity is maxed out,” says Zorbaugh. “Determine how much your volume grows each year and then you can plan on when an expansion is needed and how long the planning, preparation and construction process will

WasteAdvantage Magazine January 2012