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Salt Lake County does not have the city's permission to build a garbage transfer station here - nor has it even asked for it yet.

But that hasn't stopped the county from putting the estimated $4 million project out to bid.The county narrowed its list of prospective general contractors to four last week and plans to make the final selection by Feb. 15. And according to one of the four companies, Brubaker Construction Inc., the proposed Central Valley Recycling & Transfer Center is scheduled to be completed by Nov. 15.

"That is a little presumptuous," Sandy City Council Chairman George McNeill said of the fast track the transfer site is apparently riding. "That's further along than I had understood it."

The county has yet to submit a design to the city's planning department for the proposed 110,000-square-foot facility, to which tons of trash from unincorporated county areas would be trucked in, dumped, loaded onto railroad cars and banished forever to a Carbon County landfill.

The county has identified a 48-acre parcel in a Sandy industrial park west of I-15, between 9400 South and 9800 South - and right beside the railroad corridor - as a prime location.

The Sandy Planning Commission and City Council could reject the plan. The city has asked the county for more information, including an architectural drawing.

Mike Reberg, a management analyst for the county Public Works Department, said that's why the county has requested bids on the project - so a site plan can be developed for the city's consideration. Even though the bids cover the entire project, Reberg said any contract would be divided into stages, and the county would have the option of canceling the rest of the work at any point along the way.

"The important part is the design phase," he said. "We need some design renderings and need the architects to get involved so we can take it to Sandy City to get approval."

The other contractors who made the short list are Big D Construction, Layton Construction and Hogan & Tingey Construction.

The proposal generated quite a bit of discussion during the Sandy City Council election campaign last fall, but its two chief opponents were defeated. Still, the city has made no public promises to the county. It has a number of unanswered questions regarding truck traffic, noise and visual impacts. It also wants reassurance that the facility won't stink.

"We as a city have to decide, can the adverse impacts be mitigated in such a way that the neighbors and the city are not adversely affected," McNeill said.

He promised the city wouldn't be rushed into a hasty decision but would put the proposal - once it receives it - through the normal course of staff and governmental review.

The Salt Lake County Commission views the transfer site as critical for two reasons - to make countywide recycling a reality, and to extend the lives of the county's two landfills by exporting some of the garbage outside the valley. Because the creation of new Salt Lake County landfills is unlikely, all of the county's solid waste eventually will be sent elsewhere.

While the facility's construction cost is being estimated at $4 million, the total price tag, including land purchase, could be in the neighborhood of $6 million.