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Route optimization and two-shifts: How Syracuse hopes to ease trash collection delays

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Sanitation crew members collect loose trash to throw out. City of Syracuse residents are dealing with excess trash and litter.

Syracuse Common Councilors on Monday could give the green light to a plan that proposes new ways to address the current issues plaguing the city’s trash and recycling collection. City residents have experienced delays in pick-ups and litter in the streets for weeks. DPW sanitation crews have also been two shifts as part of a pilot program to extend pick-up times.

Chief Operating Officer Corey Dunham says the city would like to work with an engineering consulting firm to better optimize trash collection routes.

“A lot of our routes are just uneven," Dunham said. "Some crews are picking up a lot more trash than others. Just route optimization would be, is something we really need to pursue so that we can make it easier on the staff and more equitable across the board.”

Since beginning the two-shift pilot program, she says there have not been any delays. Department of Public Works Commissioner Jeremy Robinson says there is only so much his team can do given current constraints.

“You walk out your door, and what do you see," Robinson said. "Litter, tires everywhere, all types of stuff that we just we’re just ignoring. Some of the neighbors don't pick it up, and we get calls from counselors, and they tell us ‘Hey, we got this, we got that. Can we go pick this up?'" Robinson said.

He continued, "It's tough to maintain our sanitation and pick up everything and do what we have to do to make the city look good. So it's just, we need help, that’s plain simple, we need help and we need you guys to help us.”

He welcomes long-term solutions such as purchasing semi-automated trucks. But any wholesale solutions could be years away.

Councilors are expected approve more than 300-thousand dollars of federal pandemic relief funds for the engineering services agreement at its Monday meeting.