Patrick Felling, director of solid waste management for Shenandoah County, stands outside the county’s new trash and recycling center site on Powhatan Road in Strasburg that opened in December. 

STRASBURG – Shenandoah County recently opened a new $780,000 trash and recycling collection center near town.

The facility on Powhatan Road opens Monday to county residents – the day after the site on John Marshall Highway closes. The county posted signs on the John Marshall Highway facility to alert users about the closing scheduled for 5 p.m. Sunday, and employees put flyers in area stores to direct residents to the new site.

Director of Solid Waste Management Patrick Felling said Tuesday the county plans to bar entry into the John Marshall Highway site. Once closed, the county must restore the John Marshall Highway property to its original condition as pasture land in accordance with a lease agreement with the owners, Felling said. The county also plans to close a trash compactor and collection site on Green Acre Drive.

The county designed and built the Powhatan Road facility on 1.7 acres to handle more trash and recycling material than the sites on Green Acre Drive and John Marshall Highway combined, Felling said. The Powhatan Road site is a better location and built for the future, he added.

The facility features improved access and more space for vehicles to maneuver through the parking area and while users wait in line at busy times, Felling explained. But concerns about access to the John Marshall Highway site prompted the county to seek other locations.

“We’re very concerned about the safety on the road at Route 55,” Felling said. “We often hear of incidents where there are near misses or not-so-lucky situations.

“We were concerned about that place because there’s no turn lane there at 55 mph,” Felling added.

The limited space at the John Marshall Highway facility creates problems and a safety hazard on the road at busy times, Felling said. The new site can accommodate 15-20 vehicles either in the process of disposing trash and recycling materials or waiting in a queue, he added.

“But, again, this site’s built for the future,” Felling said. “It’s our largest site, and we’re at a population center for the county, and so we do anticipate growth is gonna happen here, and we want to be ready for the next 10 to 20 years.”

The Green Acre Drive facility, referred to as the Fishers Hill site, also poses maneuverability and safety challenges for vehicles, Felling added.

Users of the new site likely would drive slower on Powhatan Road and the facility features a larger entrance, Felling said.

“So this just gives us much better access all the way around,” Felling said.

The Powhatan Road site is in a more industrial area away from most residential neighborhoods. Residents living over a rise behind the facility would benefit from the site’s close proximity, Felling noted.

The new facility cost more than initially anticipated because construction crews needed to blast and remove rock from the site, which drove the contract price up to $780,000, Felling said.

“We do anticipate in the very long term that this will pay for itself because we’re going from running two facilities down to one,” Felling said.

The county would not need to pay rent for the Powhatan Road site as it does now for the use of the properties on Green Acre Drive and John Marshall Highway, he said.

County officials considered expanding the collection site on John Marshall Highway. However, the Virginia Department of Transportation would have required that the county build a turn lane into the facility at an estimated cost of at least $1 million, Felling explained.

“Something needed to happen if we were to stay there and to do so it would have been very expensive,” Felling said.

The county operates 10-12 collection sites. County officials also did not renew the lease the local government had for the St. Luke’s site and have since closed the facility. Officials looked for a new location on which to build a facility to serve residents in the Back Road area but so far they have been unsuccessful, Felling said. The county continues to consider properties for a new facility, he said.

County officials had looked at one property to purchase for a collection facility but neighboring residents signed a petition expressing their opposition to the possible location of a new site.

“That’s always a challenge for a place like this,” Felling said. “How do you find a location that is well-suited for this as somewhat of an industrial use?”

– Contact Alex Bridges at abridges@nvdaily.com