CARY, N.C. — Cary broke ground Monday on a $13 million solution to the stench of solid waste.
Drivers along I-40 have complained for months of horrible smells as they pass the town's waste treatment plant. Cary held a big celebration over high technology designed to stop the stink.
The celebration was complete with flying flags, a podium and a good-sized crowd. Town Council members spoke with pride.
"I am really proud of our council and our staff," council member Julie Robison said.
Even a United States congressman took the stage.
"I think this is a major step forward," said Rep. David Price, of the Fourth District. "I think it's appropriate that we mark this major step that Cary is taking."
The excitement was not about a new shopping mall, or new government complex. Rather, Cary broke ground on a biosolids dryer.
The festivities were appropriate, considering the problem the dryer is designed to solve -- the awful smell that drivers recoil from every day as they drive Interstate 40 near Harrison Avenue.
"It smells like my 18-month-old daughter's diaper in a trash can," David Morken said.
Cary's north treatment plant, right next to I-40, dries waste in open air. That is why it stinks.
The biodryer, to be built on the south side of town, will dry solid waste without the scent, or stench, ever hitting the air.
When what is now a hole in the ground becomes a state-of-the-art drying facility, the end product will be tiny sludge pellets that can be sold as fertilizer.
Cary officials said that could transform the smell of sludge into the smell of money.
"Certainly, from an environmental aspect, we, as Cary, get to be a leader in the waste area," council member Mike Joyce said.
Until the new dryer is built, Cary said it will try to process more solid waste away from its plant near I-40.
Meanwhile, out on I-40, drivers cannot wait until next summer, when the dryer should bring them some fresh air.