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Fee waivers, debris pick-up offered by city and county to help residents clean up

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Charlottesville and Albemarle County officials are trying to make it easier for residents and property owners to clean up from the Jan. 3 snowstorm that snapped tree limbs, toppled powerlines and poles and left thousands in the cold and dark.

Residents aren’t the only ones cleaning up. Virginia Department of Transportation crews will be working Interstate 64 over the next several weeks to remove the remnants of thousands of trees that had blocked the interstate between U.S. 250 and Goochland County during last week’s storm.

Repair crews from the region’s four utility companies reported the vast majority of customers were back on line Tuesday evening with about 130 out in Louisa County and less than 20 powerless in Albemarle County.

In Charlottesville and Albemarle County, officials announced Tuesday that they would waive fees for residents to dispose of storm-related vegetative debris at the Ivy Material Utilization Center. The waiver will be in effect until Monday, January 17.

Vegetation debris, such as tree limbs, will be ground into mulch and available for purchase at the center. Debris will be accepted from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday at the center, 4576 Dick Woods Road.

The waiver does not apply to commercial vehicles or haulers. To get the waiver, residents must show proof of residency and state that the debris is storm-related.

The city’s Public Works Department will help residents clear and clean up by providing a free storm debris pick-up service for the week of Jan. 24.

Collection dates will correspond to residents’ normal trash pick-up day and only storm-related debris will be collected.

Depending on the amount of debris and response to the program, adjustments may be made to the schedule and will be announced as soon as possible.

City officials are asking residents to not stack or lean debris near or on trees, utility poles, or other structures. That includes keeping clear fire hydrants, water meters, backflow prevention devices and mailboxes and to avoid blocking roads, driveways and sidewalks.

Those city residents who previously purchased large item collection from the city to remove storm debris may keep their purchase for another date or request a refund from the city treasurer’s office.

More information is available at www.charlottesville.gov/1061/waste-management.

VDOT crews and commuters will be seeing a lot of each other in the next several weeks as crews remove trees, tree limbs and other storm-strewn debris from the highway shoulders and median.

The crews will use open-top tractor-trailers equipped with grapple claws to load the debris into the trucks and haul it to disposal sites.

“There will be both mobile and stationary work zones with right shoulder closures between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. for the next three to four weeks,” said Lou Hatter, VDOT spokesman. “Once the right side of the highway is clear, the crews will move to the median. While trees and debris are removed from the median the left shoulder and left lane will be closed to accommodate the trucks and other equipment and provide safe working space for the crews.”

VDOT officials estimate in the thousands the number of trees fell in a 50-mile stretch of Interstate 64 in Albemarle, Fluvanna, Louisa and Goochland counties during the storm.

“Those trees blocking the travel lanes were cut into movable pieces and pushed to the shoulders to allow snowplows to continue moving and keep the highway open,” Hatter said. “Many other trees fell into the ‘clear zone’ outside the shoulder and are a hazard in the event a vehicle runs off the highway.”

Four debris removal crews are working on the eastbound highway from the U.S. 250/Shadwell exit and another four crews are working in the westbound lanes from mile marker 176 in Henrico County toward the U.S. 250/Shadwell exit in Charlottesville.

The operation is a cooperative effort between VDOT and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and involves several specialty debris removal and monitoring contractors.

The vacant rest area at mile marker 145 eastbound will be used as a temporary debris management site. The debris will be dumped there and ground into chips for final disposal.

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