The city will be getting brand-new Public Works trucks:
• Cost: $220,000 each
• Functions: Dump truck, leaf truck, snow plow/sand truck
• Make: International
• Total: Five in 60 days; four more by fall
Chattanooga will soon see a fleet of Transformers in its Public Works yards on 11th Street.
But don't expect to see Optimus Prime, morphing from a robot to a tractor-trailer. Instead, Chattanooga's new trucks will be part dump truck, part leaf truck and part snow plow and sand truck.
"They perform three different functions," said Danny Thornton, interim director of the city's Department of General Services. "What Public Works is doing is resizing their fleet."
The city decided to buy the nine trucks after last year's winter storms repeatedly dumped snow. The largest storm brought 8 inches, paralyzing the city for days.
Public Works officials then realized they didn't have any snow plows to attach to trucks. They used road graders to clear streets and old sand trucks to lay out salt brine and sand.
Tony Boyd, assistant director of citywide services, said he is thankful this winter has been mild.
"It's always good when we don't have snow events," he said.
But the new trucks will be an additional tool for the city, he said.
Each truck costs $220,000, city officials said. The bodies are from International, and three manufacturers are working on them. Each truck will have several attachments, including automated leaf vacuuming capabilities and front mounts for plows.
A prototype is expected to arrive in Chattanooga within two weeks, officials said, and five trucks will be delivered within 60 days. The remaining four will be delivered by the fall.
Trucks that can do anything and everything year round will mean a reduction in Public Works' fleet, Boyd said.
"For every one of these trucks, I'm turning in two old ones," he said.
The city will save money on gas costs, insurance and manpower, Thornton said.
Public Works uses three crew members per truck during leaf season, but it will only need one to operate the automated leaf vacuum system, officials said.
City Councilman Manny Rico, chairman of the Public Works Committee, said he is not concerned that the trucks weren't able to be in place by this winter.
"We've got stuff we can use already," he said.
He said he was more thrilled with the savings the city will soon see.
"It keeps us from having a different truck for every project," he said.