Street Sweeper contracts – 7 Mistakes Municipalities make when writing specifications and how to avoid them

Cities and Counties across the country are learning that contracting out their street sweeper service is far more cost effective than performing these services in house.  However developing your street sweeping contract is an important process.  If you have never done it before it’s easy to miss key steps that can cause the contract to be less successful than you need.  The following are some items to consider to ensure your street sweeping contractor works for you.

Mistake 1 – Not providing detailed equipment requirements

There are numerous configurations of street sweepers used across the country.  They can vary greatly in size, function, operating speed and efficiency.  While many people look at these street sweepers as interchangeable they actually are designed for different functions.  Some are designed for highways while others stick to residential areas.  Some are designed for construction sites while others are designed for leaves and dirt in finished communities.  Knowing what equipment is best for your project will help ensure you get quality service.

Things to consider:

  • Size – Some agencies make the mistake of not specifying sweeper size. This could result in the low bidder being a company using a small “sweeper” that is designed for commercial parking lots and not streets.  It’s wise to require a minimum Gross Vehicle Weight and at least a 4 yard hopper size to avoid this problem.
  • Sweeping Function – Sweepers function in three basic ways
    • Mechanical Street Sweepers use brooms and conveyors to pick up the dirt
    • Vacuum Street Sweepers use vacuum functions to “suck” the dirt up
    • Regenerative air Street Sweepers circulate air to lift the dirt off the ground and transport it to the trucks hopper

While mechanical sweepers are the most commonly used vehicles due to their versatility and cost effectiveness you should do research to make sure you know what you need.

  • Speed – While operating speed isn’t something that should be included in equipment specs, minimum traveling speed is. You want to make sure the truck can travel to and from sites quickly.  Slow traveling speeds can prevent your work from being completed in a timely fashion
  • Advance Warning Devices – Be sure to specify that the street sweeper be equipped with all necessary advance warning devices needed to protect the traveling public. Examples are 15 light directional arrow boards, rotating beacons or strobes, reflective tape and backup alarms
  • Shadow Vehicles: FDOT requires a shadow vehicle with an attenuator behind the street sweeper when sweeping on its roads. If you have an FDOT MOA as part of your roads you’ll need to include that requirement in your spec.  You can also require it on your high speed arterial roads to ensure the safety of the traveling public.

Mistake 2 – Not requiring GPS tracking and records

GPS tracking is an easy way for agencies to ensure they’re getting the street sweeping they are paying for.  They allow you to easily verify that service was provided and also maintain a record of services provided if you are ever questioned by a citizen or regulating agency such as the Department of Environmental Protection.  The best part GPS is so inexpensive to the vendor that it usually does not affect the curb mile price they’ll bid.

Things to consider:

  • Requiring a minimum “ping” frequency for the street sweeper of every minute
  • Requiring daily reports be provided for each street sweeper
  • Requiring activities to be shown on report such as:
    • When the street sweeper is sweeping vs when it is just traveling
    • When the street sweeper dumps
    • How fast the street sweeper is operating
    • Street Names as well as latitude/longitude
    • Street Sweeper operator name

 

Mistake 3: Not providing specific reference requirements

Since most agencies are required to award the contract to the low qualified bidder, it’s important to make sure your solicitation spells out what it means to be qualified.

Things to consider:

  • Automatically disqualifying bidders who have had a contract terminated for poor performance in the last 5 years
  • Requiring at least 5 references of similar size. This is important because a company who has swept only shopping centers or a small city with 10 curb miles isn’t necessarily able to sweep a city of 100 curb miles
  • Requiring a office within a certain distance of your project so they can respond to emergencies in a timely manner

Mistake 4: Not providing a list of roads and corresponding quantities.

Street Sweeping contractors base their bids on the time and equipment required to do the job.  To provide an accurate costs it’s important the bidders know what you want swept and how frequently.  By providing them details of the work to be performed it allows them the opportunity to visit the sites and review the conditions.  They also have the chance to verify quantities and ask questions prior to the bid.

 

Mistake 5: Not having a mandatory pre-bid conference

Pre-Bid conferences are the time to ensure the bidders are clear on what you expect.  It also allows them to ask questions in an open environment for all to hear.   Often agencies skip this step and only find out after the contract was awarded that the contractor wasn’t clear on their expectations.  This can lead to disputes, poor service and even failed contracts.

Mistake 6: Not requiring a performance bond

Agencies often think bonds aren’t necessary for Street Sweeping contracts.  However if that contractor fails to deliver it can be time consuming and costly to award a new contract.  In the meantime an essential service is not being performed and you have not recourse against the failed contractor.  A bond is a low cost way to ensure you get a quality contractor and you will get the services you expect.

Mistake 7: Not providing specific instructions regarding disposal of sweeping debris

As the generator of the street sweeping debris, your Agency is responsible for the handling and disposal of it from “cradle to grave”.  Many agencies have run afoul of the DEP by not ensuring their debris was properly handled.  The DEP provides guidance for how street sweeping should be disposed of here: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/stormwater/npdes/docs/GuidanceSt-Sweep_05-03-04.pdf

The most important point is that the sweepings must be disposed of at a Class 1 or 2 Landfill.  If the street sweeper chooses to separate the Trash from the street sweepings then there are additional guidelines for how they can be disposed of but the Trash must still be disposed of at a Class 1 or 2 landfill.

 

At USA Services we specialize in working with government agencies to design a plan that cost effectively meets their sweeping needs.  We often can provide a piggyback opportunity that allows that solves these needs but if not we’re happy to work with you to develop your specifications.  Our offices in Orlando, Jacksonville, Tampa, Fort Myers, Cocoa, Daytona Beach and Leesburg are all capable of helping you.  Contact us today for more information.

 

Street Sweeper with Tampa skyway bridge

Developing a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP)

The state of Florida and the FDEP was given authorization by the EPA to implement their own NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permitting program in the year 2000. This program regulates point source discharges of stormwater into surface waters of the State of Florida from industrial, construction, and Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s). The FDEP was given the responsibility reviewing general permits request, issuing general permits, performing stormwater management compliance, and working with local municipalities to push enforcement initiatives. With construction being the most common permit issued, and by far the largest source of sediment water pollution in the United States, it is the most commonly audited by the FDEP and local municipalities.

Before you can file for your general permit you must first develop a SWPPP (Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan). The SWPPP main function is to identify any possible site pollutants that have the capability of affecting the stormwater discharging from your site boundaries. The SWPPP must also describe the Best Management Practices (BMP’s) that will be utilized on your site to reduce these pollutants from discharging off site. The FDEP does give a SWPPP template and a full list of requirements on their website. When creating your SWPPP, keep in mind that you’re not creating a finished product. Once construction starts the SWPPP is intended to be a living document that changes with your site. Once your SWPPP is completed you can file for your general permit or NOI (Notice of Intent). The SWPPP and NOI must be posted onsite at all time during construction.

The most common BMP’s used on a construction site in the State of Florida are silt fence, sock drain pipe, construction entrance, turbidity barrier, and street sweeping. When choosing which BMP’s you will utilize on your site keep in mind that all material BMP that is installed has a life span that usually doesn’t last longer than the projected life of the project. A preventative maintenance BMP like street sweeping when done and utilized correctly can dramatically reduce the need for other BMP’s your site by removing the sediment and tracking from your street before it reaches the storm system and discharges off site. If a BMP is not working as intended and a new BMP is used it must be changed in the SWPPP’s narrative.

Once the project is started and the permit is filed and the SWPPP is on site a routine inspection must be done by a qualified site inspector chosen by the construction sites operator. The inspection must be done every 7 calendar days and within 24 hours of the conclusion of a rain event of 0.5” or greater for the duration of the project. For a complete set of conditions and requirements pertaining to Inspection Frequency refer to the official Florida Construction Generic Permit.

Contact USA Services today to see how street sweeping can help save you money over structural BMP’s.

Celebrating 25 Years Keeping Florida Clean!

2014 is a big year at USA Services. We are proudly celebrating our 25th year in business.

Back in 1989, we started as a small, one-truck operation in Orlando, sweeping shopping centers and other parking lot facilities. Over the years we’ve grown to provide other maintenance services – street sweeping, waste services, roadside mowing, tree care services, guardrail and handrail repair, sign repair, asset maintenance and so much more. 

We’ve also expanded to new markets like Jacksonville, Tampa, Ft. Myers, the Space Coast and beyond. We’ve worked hard over these years to earn our customers trust and they’ve rewarded us greatly with their business and friendship.

We want to thank everyone who has helped make USA Services a successful part of the community and trusted us to take care of their maintenance needs.  We promise to never forget that is our staff and customers who create our success and it is to them who we owe our commitment and gratitude.

Thank you.

Providing Public Education Through Our Custom Truck Wraps

If you’ve been reading our blog you’re already well aware of the environmental benefits of street sweeping.  Street Sweeping removes potential pollutants at the source before they have a chance to enter the storm water system and flow the our rivers and lakes.  Street sweepers are by far the most cost-effective way to prevent storm water pollution – particularly in Florida where lakes and other water bodies are such a large part of our environment.  Street sweeping should be a key best management practice (BMP) to developing any storm water pollution prevention plan (SWPP) as well as meeting the stringent requirements of the NPDES & TMDL programs. 

The general public is less aware of these benefits though. The average citizen only notices the aesthetic and safety benefits that come from street sweeping. 

To help educate our communities, we’ve developed a program of wrapping our sweepers with custom designs. Every vehicle in our fleet features a different, distinctive wrap. These wraps highlight street sweepings role in protecting the environment in a subtle eye catching manner. 

In each wrap we try to highlight a water body in our communities. Examples are Lake Eola and Lake Monroe near Orlando, the Tampa Bay, the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, the Daytona Beach Pier and more. Along with this visual clue on both sides and the rear of the sweeper, we also provide our slogan “Protecting Our Waterways and Keeping Florida Clean…One Mile at a Time.” In addition, we provide our website address so people can visit the site and learn more about street sweeping’s role in the community and environment. 

If you have more questions about street sweeping’s place in protecting the environment or how we can help your community, please contact us.

Clean Streets: More Necessary Than You Might Think

Keeping Up with Street Sweeping

You are likely aware of the environmental and aesthetic impacts a dirty street can have. But did you know dirty streets can also pose a real threat to drivers, as well as shorten the life span of the pavement?

Let’s explore some of the reasons street sweeping is necessary for making your neighborhoods and city a safer place for everyone.

Smaller Debris
Dust, grit, sand and rocks are very damaging to a road’s surface if roadway or construction site sweeping is not implemented. These small particles act like sandpaper—grinding the asphalt down and creating potholes. They can also wreak havoc on a car’s paint or windshield. Regular street sweeping greatly extends the life of a road, not to mention giving the city’s residents a sense of pride in their environment.

Trash
When there is garbage in the street, it’s not just unsightly—it can be dangerous. That innocuous-looking sheet of paper could get blown onto someone’s windshield and obstruct their view, or some other debris could get caught in a cyclist’s wheel or pop their tire.
 
Animals and Biohazards
When organic material or food trash is left in the roadway, it can attract local wildlife. This can be dangerous for several reasons: wild animals may carry disease, a few animals usually attract more animals, and animals can become aggressive and attack if they feel threatened.

More animals on the roadway can subsequently increase the likelihood of accidents or road kill. When road kill is left on the street, it in turn creates a biohazard for other wildlife, pets and even humans who may come in contact with the dead creature.

Benefits of Keeping Up with Street Sweeping

As you can see, many different elements can come together to create a dirty, dangerous street. By keeping a regular schedule of street sweeping and following best practices, you can:

  • Keep your streets looking beautiful
  • Prevent wildlife from being attracted to main thoroughfares
  • Extend the life of streets and street surfaces
  • Prevent possible pollutants from entering the environment

Whether it’s for construction sweeping or regular road maintenance, our team knows to follow the industry standards. We do our best to protect the environment and citizens while keeping the streets clean. To learn more about what we do or to request a proposal, call us toll-free at 1-800-226-3200 today.