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Get ready for the NEXT annual leaf collection

posted Nov 18, 2010, 2:10 PM by Reid Serozi   [ updated Nov 18, 2010, 3:42 PM ]
Many residents in the Mordecai CAC District were surprised to hear the annual leaf pick-up is happening today and tomorrow.  Residents are  concerned the leaf collection was too early this year, since many of the leaves have not fallen. The majority of the neighbors will have to wait for the second wave of collection, which typically does not start till after the New Years. For many that is also a concern.

The following letter was sent to the Director of Public Works Division, which overseas street maintenance:

Hello Carl Dawson,

I would like to raise a concern about the annual leaf collection
service performing clean-up too early in the season and the next wave
of service is not scheduled till after the New Year’s Holiday, per the
information online.

I am the chairman of the Mordecai Citizens Advisory Council district,
which our community / neighborhoods fall in SECTION E of the scheduled
annual leaf collection.

Concerns were raised today as the city street maintenance crews are
moving through our CAC district today (section E) and will continue
through Friday.

The abundance of leaves have not fallen from the trees and the majority
of residences have not moved leaves to the curb, which makes the
service appear to be unproductive at this time.

We understand the leaf collection service starts the same time each
year and also changes the direction around the city to be fair. We
also understand new leaf collection equipment has been purchased,
which has increased the speed of pick-up greatly.

May we suggest the leaf collection is started per some level of
science, instead of a regular hard set date?

May we suggest the second wave of service is applied before the New
Year Holiday?

Bottom line, the Mordecai CAC residents are very grateful for this
excellent service. Thou we are concerned this type of service is not
being applied at the correct time. We are concerned about the amount
of time until residents see the second wave of leaf collection, since
piles of organic matter contribute to storm water, parking, snow
removal, sidewalk, and driving issues along our streets.

Again, we are extremely grateful for this city service and we hope our
feedback improves the quality.

CC’ing council members.

Reid Serozi
Mordecai Citizens Advisory Council

Carl Dawson with the Public Works Division quickly responded and attached a very thorough response from Christopher W. McGee, Street Superintendent from the Public Works Department.

Mr Dawson noted this autumn has been exceptionally warm and it is true that many of the leaves have been late falling. Because of this the Department began the leaf collection efforts later than ever this year. Mr. Dawson urge citizens to go ahead and place their leaves next to the curb (not in the street) as soon as possible so that they are ready to be picked up when street crews return. It may happen before the holidays(Christmas).

Dear Resident,

I would like to provide some explanation as to how the leaf collection program operates and I am also interested in what we might do in order to improve.

      The City of Raleigh is committed to providing two complete passes around the city each year.  We provide one pass prior to Christmas and one pass after January 1st of each year.  The city is divided into seven primary sections (A,B,C,D,E,F and G), with 20 subsections in each.  As you can imagine, this is quite an extensive process.  In an effort to treat everyone fairly, we rotate the section in which we begin each year.  We started our collection program in Section C this year; the last time we started in Section C was in 2003. 

      In order for us to provide a complete pass around the city prior to Christmas, we must begin no later than mid-November.  This allows us only 5 weeks to make a complete pass around the city, and many times, we work 7-day weeks to make up for lost work days due to inclement weather.  In many cases, the windy, rainy and inclement weather appears to reduce our effectiveness, due to the fact that not all of the leaves have fallen; after we make a pass through a particular section or neighborhood, the wind and rain readily drop more leaves.  We cannot return to sections, at random, for additional cleanups prior to Christmas because we would not have time to collect in every neighborhood.

      There are several factors this year that have had an unusual impact on leaf collection.  First of all, many of the leaves have not fallen so there are fewer leaves to vacuum.  Second, I have really impressed upon our employees that we will have a very short window to complete collection this year, due to our late start (we started on November 15 because there were little or no leaves falling).  This is as late as we have ever started.  In addition to these two items, the city has purchased new, faster and more cost efficient, automated equipment. 

      The additional automated equipment was purchased in an effort to reduce to total cost of the leaf collection program.  Our current program requires more than 80 employees, approximately 60 pieces of equipment, and we consume about 50,000 gallons of diesel fuel.  The total cost of the operation is more than one million dollars.  We the purchase of the new automated equipment, the leaf collection program will require less than 20 employees and only 14 pieces of equipment.  This will reduce our fuel consumption by more than 25,000 gallons of fuel and reduce the total cost of the program by as much as $400,000 annually.

      We anticipate that our progress will continue to be quite rapid until more leaves fall to the ground.  When we complete our collection cycle with Section B, prior to Christmas, we will continue working through the sections in an effort to make a second pass prior to Christmas; however, please understand that our schedule is completely dependent upon the weather.  If we have snow or ice, these are lost work days for leaf collection, because these are the same employees who push snow.  If we have heavy rains or freezing temperatures we will have shorter work days.

      In summation, we will make every attempt to make another pass prior to Christmas; however, the City of Raleigh has more than 400,000 residents and over 2,000 miles of curb-line and because many of the leaves have not fallen, we have a very short window to cover all of these miles and residents.  This fact alone makes it impossible for our crews to go back through any given neighborhood for an extra pass at random.

      We will continue to make it our goal to provide excellent customer service to our citizens while working within the natural and economic constraints that govern our daily tasks.  I hope the above explanation provides a better understanding of the challenge we face.  If there are other areas of city service where you feel we are failing, please let me know.  I am making every effort to make needed improvements with my division. If you have further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.




Christopher W. McGee, PE

Street Superintendent

City of Raleigh

Public Works Department