Public Works

Public Works connects us, enhances our quality of life

By Wally Urrutia, Sanitation Superintendent

Most of us take for granted that our trash will be picked up on time, our drinking water will be clean, and our public facilities will be adequately maintained. But College Station’s public works infrastructure, facilities, and services wouldn’t be possible without the dedicated professionals of the Public Works Department.

Efficient and professional public works programs manage our water, sewer, streets, traffic operations, storm water drainage, fleet maintenance, public building maintenance, recycling and solid waste collection. These services are vital for the safety, health and high quality of life we enjoy in our growing community.

This week marks the 57th annual National Public Works Week, which celebrates the thousands of men and women across the United States and Canada who provide and maintain the infrastructure and services known as public works. This year’s theme is “Public Works Connects Us,” which celebrates the role public works plays in connecting our communities with our streets, roads, bridges, and public transportation.

National Accreditation

Did you know that College Station is the only city of our size (80,000-150,000 population) in Texas with nationally accredited Public Works and Water Services departments? Administered by the American Public Works Association (APWA), the accreditation program recognizes agencies that go beyond the requirements of established industry practices.

The College Station Public Works Department consists of eight divisions — Capital Projects, Facility Maintenance, Streets Maintenance, Drainage Maintenance, Traffic Operations, Sanitation, Fleet Services and Administration. Our 123 employees deliver sanitation services and plan, build and maintain the infrastructure that allows our community to grow and prosper.

About Public Works Week

Since 1960, the APWA has sponsored National Public Works Week as a way for its 28,000 members to educate the public on the importance of public works in their daily lives. The occasion is marked each year with scores of resolutions and proclamations from mayors, governors, and presidents.

As we observe National Public Works Week, we honor and thank the employees of our Public Works and Water Services departments for their professionalism, hard work and the high level of dedicated service they provide to our community every day.


About the Blogger

Sanitation Superintendent Wally Urrutia is in his 30th year with the City of College Station. He was named Solid Waste Manager of the Year in 2016 by the Texas Public Works Association.


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Hanover honored on golden anniversary of University Drive underpass

Ret. Gen. Joe Hanover, 99, says the underpass has changed little in 50 years. Photo by Henry Mayo.

Gen. Hanover speaks at the ceremonial opening on the University Drive underpass at Wellborn Road on March 21, 1967. Photo: Texas A&M Cushing Library.

By Jay Socol, Public Communications Director

A half-century ago today, the complexion of the Northgate area was forever altered with the ceremonial opening of the underpass at University Drive and Wellborn Road, the first of its kind in Brazos County.

The College Station City Council today honored the man who supervised the project for the Texas Highway Department, Ret. Gen. Joe Hanover. Councilwoman Blanche Brick read this proclamation before the council’s Transportation and Mobility Committee meeting.

Click here for the complete story about the underpass project from Monday’s edition of The Eagle.

Now 99 years old, Hanover is just a year younger that the Texas Highway Department, which is observing its 100th birthday.

Here’s some more photos:

Photo: Texas A&M Cushing Library.

Councilwoman Blanche Brick reads the proclamation to Gen. Hanover.

Gen. Hanover poses with city staff and members of the Transportation and Mobility Committee.


SocolAbout the Author

Jay Socol (@jaysocol) is in his eighth year as College Station’s public communications director. A 1991 graduate of Texas A&M. Jay has also been communications director for the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, public information officer for the City of Bryan, and news director at several Bryan-College Station area radio stations. He’s a native of Breckenridge.


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Concrete streets will save city money in long run


By Donald Harmon, Public Works Director

The results of last year’s citizen survey made it clear that maintaining our roadways are among our residents’ top concerns. It’s a priority for the Public Works Department, too.

The poor soils in our area contain highly expansive clays that make proper road construction and maintenance a formidable challenge. A proactive preventive maintenance program and responsible construction standards are essential to extending pavement life and substantially reducing the need for expensive maintenance.

In November, the College Station City Council directed the city to move from asphalt to concrete when building new residential and collector streets. A year-long review found that while initial construction costs for concrete were higher, maintenance and life-cycle costs were lower. Over time, that means concrete provides the best value.

As part of our thorough review, we met extensively with industry experts and area contractors along with representatives of the Greater Brazos Valley Builders Association, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute and the City of Bryan. Depending on variables such as lot size, roadway width — and if a collector street is involved — the study suggested a cost increase of about $1,400 per lot.

New development builds the majority of our residential and collector streets, and the new standards are without question a substantial expense. The trade-off is that the reduced maintenance costs mean more resources will be available to maintain our 773 lane miles of existing streets.

Our current street inventory includes 645 lane miles of asphalt and only 128 lane miles of concrete, and more than half of our streets are residential as illustrated in the following graphic. Collectors are streets like Victoria Avenue, while Barron Road is an example of an arterial:


The study showed that over the 30-year lifecycle of a typical residential street, using concrete would reduce maintenance costs by about 63 percent. Even when you factor in the higher initial cost of construction, concrete residential streets are about 20 percent cheaper in the long run.

Over three decades, that adds up to millions of dollars in savings.

What else are we doing?

We’re always looking for advances in materials and technology to address street maintenance concerns. For example, we’re evaluating a new product that’s designed to more effectively seal asphalt pavement from water infiltration, which is one of the leading causes of pavement failure. The initial results of a pilot study look promising.

In addition, a consulting firm will update the pavement condition index for all city streets this spring as part of our ongoing asset management program. Accurate information is critical in determining where to allocate resources to more efficiently maintain our entire roadway network.

We agree that proper street maintenance is essential. That’s why we’re taking responsible steps to improve the quality of our roads now that will benefit the city and its residents for generations to come.


donaldharmon_webAbout the Author

Donald Harmon is in his 18th year with the City of College Station and his fourth as director of public works.


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New fee will help address street maintenance concerns


By Aubrey Nettles, Special Projects Coordinator

While the results of our 2016 citizen survey last spring were enlightening, they were hardly surprising.

We weren’t at all surprised to learn that the overwhelming majority of our residents think College Station is a terrific place to live, work, and raise a family. We were proud that our overall city services got high marks, along with the value of the services you receive for your tax dollars.

When it came to what services our residents deem most important, we weren’t surprised, either. Public safety, managing traffic congestion, and maintaining our roadways and were at the top of the list.

The survey also revealed the biggest gaps between the importance and quality of our services. With our rapid growth, we weren’t surprised to see a 70-point gap between the importance (98 percent) and quality (28 percent) for managing traffic congestion.

What seized our attention was the 51-point gap for street maintenance. While 99 percent said maintaining our roads was an important service, only 48 percent gave us a good or excellent rating. That represented a 23-point drop from the 2012 survey, the biggest decline in any city service.

City council takes action

Those numbers also commanded the attention of the city council. During the FY17 budget process, the council began considering roadway maintenance fees to help address the maintenance needs of that vital infrastructure. After two public hearings and much deliberation over several months, the council voted in November to implement the fees starting Jan. 1.

The roadway maintenance fee will be paid by citizens and businesses within the city limits, based on their reasonably equitable share in the total impact on the road system. The fee will appear as a line item on your utility bill, with the revenue dedicated entirely to the maintenance and rehabilitation of our streets. That means the funds can’t be used for anything else.

Many cities in Texas are facing the same issue of road maintenance needs outpacing property and sales tax revenue. Others with variations of a roadway maintenance fee include Bryan, Austin, Corpus Christi, Kingsville, Lampasas, Taylor, and Richwood. Our neighbors in Bryan began assessing a transportation fee in 2004 that’s improved the quality of its road system.

How much do I pay?

Travel characteristics of specific land uses were used to develop the fee schedule. For residential properties, a flat monthly rate of $7.78 will be assessed to single-family homes and $6.10 to multi-family units. Bryan residents pay $12 a month.

Non-residential properties will be placed in one of five tiers ranging from $17.23 for properties that generate little road use to $250 for properties that create the most road use. For example, a small office building is expected to cause much less traffic than a large retail business, so it pays a lower fee.

Vehicle Miles Generated/Day Monthly Charge
Tier I 0 – 23.99 $17.23
Tier II 24.00 – 43.99 $38.71
Tier III 43.99 – 90.99 $74.71
Tier IV 91.00 – 223.99 $152.39
Tier V 224.00 + $250.00
Single Family Flat fee/dwelling unit $7.78
Multi-Family Flat fee/dwelling unit $6.10

What determines the non-residential tiers?

The tiers for non-residential properties are based on the amount of roadway traffic generated by the land use, the size of the property, and an industry-standard trip generation factor. The 65 land use categories for the roadway fee are consistent with other city transportation initiatives.

The size of each property depends on its land use. For example, office buildings are measured by floor area, gas stations are measured by the number of fueling positions, and hotels are measured by the number of rooms. The trip generation factor for each land use — a function of the number and length of vehicle trips — is determined by the Institute of Transportation Engineers’ Trip Generation Manual.

The amount of the fee based on a final trip value derived from the property size and the trip generation factor.

Our residents made clear in the citizen survey that they expect our streets to be properly maintained and rehabilitated. In the long run, additional resources dedicated to maintenance will save taxpayer money by deferring costly reconstruction projects.

For more information, contact me at 979-764-3423 or


15171088_10109275789026314_9222973594705679303_n1About the Author

Aubrey Nettles is in her third year as special projects coordinator in the City Manager’s Office. She previously served as executive assistant to the Fort Bend County Commission and was a management analyst for Harris County. A native of Smithville, Aubrey earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Houston in 2012 and a bachelor’s degree in communications from Texas A&M in 2010.  


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Podcast: The state of the Zika threat in College Station

By Jay Socol, Public Communications Director

Our incredibly wet spring was followed by a bone-dry summer — until the recent round of storms swept through Texas and other southern states. Mosquito populations are expected to flourish, leading many experts with the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control to believe Texas and Louisiana will become the next hot spots for the Zika virus.

In this edition of our podcast, Neighborhood Services Coordinator Barbara Moore talks about the state of Zika in College Station and throughout Brazos County, and how local authorities are approaching this new, and very real, health threat.

Click below to listen. If Soundcloud doesn’t play in your older version of Internet Explorer, click here to hear to the audio file from your system.


csf_jsocolJay Socol (@jaysocol) is in his seventh year as College Station’s public communications director. A 1991 graduate of Texas A&M. Jay has also been communications director for the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, public information officer for the City of Bryan, and news director at several Bryan-College Station area radio stations. He’s a native of Breckenridge.


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5 ways you can make single-stream recycling work even better


By Heather Woolwine, Recycling and Environmental Compliance Manager

If you’re a homegrown, organic eatin’, treehuggin’ hippie like me, you’ll find a way to recycle no matter where you are. Our enthusiasm for recycling sometimes makes for cheeky comments from family and friends because, like most people, they prefer a realistic and reasonable level of convenience.

That’s where College Station’s new single-stream recycling program comes in.

Until we launched the program in January, residents sorted recyclables into 11-gallon clear plastic bags. Single-stream appeals to those who have never recycled because it’s easy and uses a large container, similar to your trash disposal.

The new program has already paid incredible dividends as recycling participation has increased from 69 percent in 2015 to 84 percent this year. We’ve also seen participation by businesses and apartments climb from 19 percent to 24 percent.

Better participation means much less garbage has been going to the landfill. How much less? Let’s take a look at the numbers:

Recycling chart

As the City of College Station’s recycling and environmental compliance manager, I get lots of questions from residents about how the program works and how they can make it even better.

Here are five simple ways to do your part:

1. Avoid Contamination.

Make sure you are only placing clean, acceptable items in your blue recycling container. While something may be recyclable, that form of recycling may not be available in this area. Any food container that has been visibly soiled with food or grease is not recyclable and should be put in the garbage. This list of acceptable items is also printed on top of your recycling container:

  • Aluminum/tin/steel cans.
  • Glass (all colors).
  • Plastics1and2Plastics (not bags) with No. 1 or No. 2 marked on them. If one of the symbols on the right isn’t on it, don’t recycle it.
  • Mixed/white paper (Post-It notes, index cards, file folders, colored paper).
  • Junk mail (staples and windowed envelopes are fine).
  • Newspaper and inserts.
  • Brown paper bags.
  • Phone books.
  • Flattened cardboard.
  • Shredded paper (must be placed in clear plastic bags).
  • Paperboard (such as cereal boxes and dairy/juice containers).

If it’s not listed, it’s not accepted as a recyclable and is considered garbage.

2. Items should be clean and free of debris.

Paper and cardboard recyclables must be dry and free of food debris, and caps from plastics should be removed and discarded. You should also rinse and clean discarded containers to keep your recycling container from getting sticky or smelly.

3. Don’t bag your recyclables, unless …

The only recyclable that should be bagged in clear plastic is shredded paper. Bagging other items isn’t necessary and could cause significant and costly damage to the sorting equipment. Consider recycling plastic bags or using reusable bags when you go to the store.

4. Pay attention to your collection schedule.

Unlike garbage collection, recycling is collected every other week. It’s also a good idea to have your container out early because yours may be picked up as early as 8 a.m. If you can’t remember your designated collection day, visit or download the free MyWaste app. If you have a missed collection, report it as soon as possible by emailing your street address to or by calling 979.764.6228.

5. Make sure your container is unobstructed.

Place your recycling and garbage container about four feet from any obstruction. Examples of obstructions include mailboxes, vehicles, and other containers. City ordinance requires your garbage and recycling containers be removed from the curb within 12 hours of collection.
Recycling options are also available for businesses and apartments. To learn more, go to or contact me at or 979-764-6228.

Related Links


13600248_10210527460128279_3526848318137930649_nAbout the Author

Heather Woolwine has been with the City of College Station for 11 years and has been recycling and environmental compliance manager since 2014. She served as the city’s recycling coordinator from 2007-14. She attended the Environmental Training Institute at the University of Texas-Arlington and is licensed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.


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