Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

Report: D.C. residents resigned to using busted trash cans

February 16, 2011 - 09:42 AM
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Yesterday D.C. Mayor Vince Gray's transition team released its report on the state of the city's infrastructure and transportation efforts. The team spilled considerable ink knocking Gabe Klein and the D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT) -- more on that later -- but was a good deal kinder to the city's Department of Public Works (DPW), which, as the report notes, "enjoys a generally positive reputation in the community."

Nonetheless, there are a few glitches at DPW, one of them touching on arguably the most basic function of municipal government: trash collection. It seems the city's residents have grown too accustomed to using broken trash cans.

The standard-issue residential trash can in the District is the 96-gallon Supercan. Rugged as these bad boys are, they have a way of being damaged over time, particularly at the flip-top lid and its attendant hinge. They also have a way of walking off on their own, most likely to residences where other Supercans have walked off on their own.

This wouldn't be a huge problem if the city replaced them gratis. But the city doesn't do that. Residents must pay $62.50 ($32 for seniors) to get a new Supercan. As the report points out, nobody wants to do that. Therefore, "they continue to use damaged cans or use plastic bags and other non-secure alternative containers. This contributes to spillage, and attracts rats and illegal dumping."

Gray's people, perhaps recognizing the futility of fighting city-wide thriftiness, recommends spending $4.5 million on new Supercans. And punting a long-term solution down the line.

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