Credit: Doosan

Trash is delivered to the Tinker Creek Transfer Station via refuse trucks and loaded onto railcars situated belo0w the main receiving platform of the transfer station (pictured). The “Waste Line Express” - a custom-built train operated by Norfolk Southern Railroad - then transports the more than 700 tons of waste gathered from the residents and businesses each day from the transfer station to the landfill, a 33-mile one-way journey.

In 1992 Vinton, Va. — in partnership with the city of Roanoke and Roanoke county — became one of the first cities in the United States to use existing railroad tracks to transport solid waste from its transfer station to a landfill. Operations Manager Steve Barger lauds the efforts, “Getting the public involved early is critical, as doing so allowed them to take ownership of the decision-making process.”

The result of these efforts was the establishment of the Roanoke Valley Resource Authority (RVRA), the first totally rail-haul disposal system in the country. “Waste Line Express began transporting from our transfer station to the landfill in 1994, and remains one of the most unique and efficient waste disposal facilities in the nation today,” says Barger.

Vinton teamed up with Norfolk & Southern Railroads to add five miles of track to the already existing 28 miles of track to avoid increased truck traffic and other potential safety hazards. The Tinker Creek transfer station, which was designed to resemble an old-time railroad building, houses a Doosan DX225LC excavator that fills 12 rail cars, where they take a 33-mile voyage and ultimately end up at the Smith Gap Landfill. Altogether, the 12 cars can transport about 65 tons of solid waste.

The cars are emptied upon arrival to the landfill by arguably the world's largest indoor rotary dumper. The waste wood is then turned into mulch by a Doosan DX190W excavator. Citizens can pick up this mulch by pickup truck for free, as long as they provide adequate covering. To learn more about this site, visit