Where will the dirt go?

Posted at: 04/26/2013 5:27 PM
Updated at: 04/26/2013 5:53 PM
By: Ray Levato

The city is going to build a big new marina in Charlotte for visiting boats later this year. But where is all that dirt going to go when they dig it out?

It looks like city taxpayers will be on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars just to truck dirt away from Charlotte. News10NBC has learned that a delay in filling in a portion of the Inner Loop is going to add even more cost. The two projects are tied together and it could all add up to more than a million dollars.

The city says it will need to excavate 150,000 cubic yards of dirt to create the new marina basin.  According to the city engineer's office,150,000 cubic yards of dirt, if you could stack it, would fill an entire football field to a height of 90 feet tall. That's a 9-story building the size of a football field.

The new 157-slip marina would wrap around the front of the former ferry terminal. And all that dirt has to go somewhere. About a third of the dirt from the new marina would be used as fill for the portion of the Inner Loop the city wants to fill in between Main Street and Monroe Avenue. But that project is still awaiting federal funding. So the city will have to re-load part of the dirt and truck it to the Inner Loop when that project begins. The city has no cost estimate for all this.

But News10NBC contacted two independent trucking companies that do this sort of thing. They say a big dump truck costs about $80 an hour. So just hauling that much dirt would cost taxpayers more than $850,000. They could also use bigger trucks. And to haul 50,000 cubic yards of it a second time?We figured it at $280,000. The total is $1,159,000.
The city engineer says the added cost is just part of doing both projects, but at different times.

Jim McIntosh, City Engineer, said, “We're moving ahead on the marina because we want to get the project going, and if waited for everything to align that doesn't make sense either. It's an incremental cost that we're going to face for waiting and storing it. The big savings is being able to reuse it again and not having to take it to a landfill or not having a place for it.”

News10NBC asked Mayor Richards.

News10NBC's Ray Levato said, “Isn't the taxpayer going to have to do this twice? You have to reload it and re-haul it.”

 Mayor Tom Richards said, “You're right. It would cost more to load it twice. But the taxpayer as part of the original harbor project would have had to pay for disposing of the dirt. And it's actually less expensive. And to fill in the Inner Loop they'd have to pay to get the dirt. So there's still an advantage.”

So where are they storing all that dirt in the meantime? The city has a couple of city-owned locations, so that won't cost taxpayers anything. But there is a cost to taxpayers for all the infrastructure that was built for the ferry terminal that now has to be torn out for the marina, parking lots, sidewalks, and all that landscaping.
Work on digging out the new boat marina in Charlotte is expected to start after this boating season. And work on the Inner Loop is at least two years away. The city is hoping for a $14 million federal grant to help bring usable land back to ground level here for development.