A large mound of dirt and debris sits just west of the Williams Transfer Station. The pile is always growing, since this is where the city's street sweeper dumps its load five days a week.
Right now, the mass contains almost a year's worth of the dirt collected from the city streets, not counting snowy and rainy days when the sweeper doesn't run.
The sweeper usually runs on different routes each weekday, with the downtown area included in all of the routes. However, street sweeping will temporarily be put on hold soon while the city's maintenance crew replaces a major part of the 12-year-old sweeper. The part, called an elevator, works like a conveyor belt moving the dirt swept up from the street into a bin on the truck.
"We've always repaired it about every other year, but we never have replaced the whole thing," said Williams Shop Supervisor Sheldon Johnson.
The new elevator will cost about $12,360. Buying a new street sweeper would cost about $180,000. The repair is expected to take about two to three weeks. The rest of the truck, which has about 50,000 miles on it, is in good shape.
City Manager Brandon Buchanan said it's not surprising the sweeper needs this repair.
"When you think about the street sweeper, it probably works in one of the harshest environments we have as far as equipment," he said. "It's picking up all kinds of junk, it's in dust and stuff all day long, it's getting just beat up constantly."
Buchanan added that picking up cinders during the winter is what causes most of the sweeper repairs. When the truck picks up cinders after the snow melts, the sweeper can collect as many as seven to 10 loads of debris per day.
The street sweeper works by using brooms on each side of the front of the truck. These brooms run along the edges of the street and sweep the dirt underneath the center of the truck.
Next, a large broom at the back of the truck sweeps the dirt forward onto an elevator, which uses a conveyor belt to move the dirt into a bin. The sweeper sprays water to control the dust.
Once the bin fills up, the dirt is screened to remove any trash and then dumped in the pile near the transfer station.
Sweeping the streets is no easy task. People may notice trails of dirt after the sweeper has gone through an area, said David Garibay, a city equipment operator.
"It's just like pushing a regular broom," he said. "Once it's going forward, there's still going to be material that rolls off the ends of the broom, so that's what leaves those trails."
The unevenness of the streets and curbs can also affect the sweeper's ability to do its job.
"There's no curb lines that are all the same," Garibay said. "You can't always stop and adjust the brooms for one block. It just takes too much time. So you kind of have to find a happy medium, and that's sometimes tough."
Another obstacle is maneuvering around parked cars and trashcans.
But even with all of the challenges, Garibay said the street sweeper "is getting as much as it can."