Investigates: Trail Ridge Landfill out of space; Cost increase and illegal dump sites are a result

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — If spring cleaning is on your to-do list, it could cost you three times as much to do this year- or you might be left holding on to that trash you planned to dump. The city owned landfill is closed to anyone trying to dump waste that isn’t what you’d already drag to the curb.


Action News Jax investigator Emily Turner found that move comes at a cost. Not only are alternative landfills up to three times the cost, they are also across town. As a result, illegal dump sites are popping up around the city dump for people who aren’t willing to make the trek or pay the price to go elsewhere.

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Horace Swann owns GHS Home Services and relied on Trail Ridge Landfill to dump the construction debris of his clients. Now, he’s paying a premium elsewhere and having to pass that along to his customers. He says it’s costing him business. But it’s not just him. “Everyone’s gonna be impacted,” he says.

Anyone looking to throw away construction debris, bulk items, or furniture isn’t allowed in. The only thing admitted is household waste. Construction debris, things like masonry material, stone, glass, wall coverings, dry wall, framing and finishing lumber are not allowed.

Neither is Class III waste, things like furniture, mattresses and box springs, pallets, boats, mobile homes, or asbestos.

The city says Trail Ridge Landfill ran out of space and now has to build more- but it’s taking longer than intended thanks to permitting issues, the city says. So in the meantime, people like Chaz Starr of That Guy Hauling and Dumpsters, have to find an alternative.

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The city says it’ll take at least four months, and Starr’s not happy about it. “It’s poor management,” he says, “and they’ve known that their space was getting high, and I believe it should have been started way sooner.”

While the city says the shut down affects everyone except its contractors, Starr says it has been selectively allowing people in, breaking the rules. We put it to the test and went undercover.

Our crew had a truck load of construction debris and was allowed in to dump, no problem. When we asked the city about the inconsistency they told us it was a mistake and promptly sent out an employee email cracking down.

But it’s not just the closure or the inconsistency that’s frustrating people like Starr or Swann. They closure is costing them money. The other dumps are across town and up to three times as expensive.

Starr says, “there’s some people, it’s probably gonna lose their businesses over this. There’s people that have loans and stuff, and, you know, they’re not going to afford that.”

Action News Jax also found the closure is costing parts of the city curb appeal. “Just driving around the past few days,” Starr says, “there’s trash and debris everywhere. They’re dumping anywhere they can.”

Starr worries the illegal dump sites are going to affect property values and public health. He says many of them have popped up within a few miles of the Trail Ridge Landfill, likely people who chose not to drive elsewhere. “And that’s the sad part,” says Swann, “because, you know, we’re trying to keep Jacksonville clean, you know, keep it green.”

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We did check with the city and many bulk items are still being picked up at the curb. That includes things like mattresses and furniture. It’s best to check with the COJ website to see how exactly that needs to be disposed of and when pick up comes to your neighborhood.

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