Monroe County commissioners — and residents — are getting impatient when it comes to the timeline and number of trucks hauling debris out of the Florida Keys post-Hurricane Irma.
It’s been nearly three months since the storm tore through the Middle and Lower Keys, causing widespread devastation. The hurricane left behind miles of debris piled on the sides of U.S. 1. Lots has been hauled out but then replaced with more debris.
Last week, the Florida Department of Transportation said it would perform one last sweep on U.S. 1. DOT has hired debris-hauling company MCM to perform the sweep of U.S. 1 while operations are overseen by a company called HDR.
MCM representative Eddie Martinez told commissioners at a meeting Monday the final sweep of U.S. 1 will start in the Lower Keys, on Big Pine Key and working outward, starting as soon as today. He said the full sweep will be done by Jan. 16, but did not say how much it will cost or who will pay for it.
The county is still responsible for county roads on which the debris is being hauled by DRC Environmental Services. That’s happening between mile markers 16 and 40. The number of debris-hauling trucks was originally supposed to be around 200 for the entire county.
“The number of trucks being utilized south of the [Seven Mile Bridge] is still very limited. What’s the total number that DRC is providing?” asked Commissioner George Neugent, to which County Administrator Roman Gastesi answered, “33 to 36. It’s in that range.”
“That’s a hell of a long way from 200, so what the hell are you doing?” asked Mayor David Rice, adding he had spoken with Grubbs Emergency Services, which does the city of Marathon’s debris hauling.
Grubbs officials told Rice they had offered to help DRC, which in turn said it did not need more help.
“I felt 33 trucks could certainly not do as well as 66 or 70 trucks,” Rice said.
The lack of available haulers and a limited number of places to put the debris have made for a debacle in the last three months.
“You can’t pick it up any faster in the neighborhoods because we don’t have transfer sites to take it to,” said Mayor David Rice. “We have I think maxed out what Monroe County has to offer for large, undeveloped pieces of property to convert into debris sites. We’re really going to have problems if these sites get developed.”
Katie Atkins: 305-440-3219