Taxpayer funded clean air equipment gone from truck stop | Business
SALISBURY - The equipment was designed to clean the air by cutting down on the amount of diesel fuel burned by truckers idling overnight at a Salisbury truck stop, but now all of the equipment is gone, and no one seems to know where it is.
In 2004 a big project to provide electric plug ins for big rigs at the Derrick Truck Stop in Rowan County was launched with much fanfare. The idea was to improve air quality in the region.
Federal grants got the system up and running in 2010, but now all the equipment is gone and the spots where the anchors for towers had been are covered with asphalt patches.
Just two years ago the electrification system was powered up for truckers. The towers in 50 spaces at the truck stop allowed big rig drivers to power their heaters, air conditioners, and electronics without having to keep the engine running and burning diesel fuel. Truckers paid a small fee for the use of the towers.
That was then, now it's very different.
"Just happen to glance riding by on 85 and saw the equipment was gone," Landis Mayor James Furr told WBTV.
As a member of the Centralina Council of Government, Furr voted twice for the project. The Environmental Protection Agency provided a $100,000 grant, while $400,000 came from Congestion Mitigation for Air Quality funding.
Local officials were excited about the project.
"Come out there, especially on a calm wind day, early in the morning, 5 am, cloud of blue smoke over the interstate and was hoping the use of this equipment would help alleviate that problem," Furr added.
"It's important to us as citizens of this region, of Rowan County because it's been an effort that has been, you know, paid for with funding from the EPA and the Dept of Transportation," said John Wear, Executive Director for the Center for the Environment at Catawba College. "So it was a sizeable investment."
The new owner of the property is the Love's Travel Stops. They are planning extensive renovations, but when asked what happened to the electrification stations, a company official said the prior owners canceled the service and removed the towers before Love's ever bought the property.
A spokeswoman with Love's told WBTV that it is too early in the construction process to know if Love's plans on putting in electrification stations. The company does have "a handful" of such stations at other locations across the country.
"My question is where's the equipment, where's our tax dollars?" Furr asked.
The answer to that question is proving to be elusive. WBTV has attempted to contact the former owner of the property, but those efforts have not yet been successful.
The Environmental Protection Agency was also contacted to see if there had been restrictions in place regarding what could be done with the electrification stations. An EPA representative told WBTV that the question was being researched.
Two sources within the trucking industry told WBTV that while the electrification stations were a good concept, widespread usage of the stations by truck drivers has yet to be shown.
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