Public Works

4 ways to fight illegal dumping and keep our city clean

By Debbie Stickles, Engineering Programs Specialist

You’ve seen the eyesores.

The piles of garbage, tires, paint cans, and appliances that someone carelessly dumped by the side of the road or in an open field. The practice is illegal, but it still happens far too often, despite the threat of substantial fines and even jail time.

Many of the dumped items are not just a blight on the landscape — they can be hazardous, too.

Illegal dumping is the disposal of a large quantity of rubbish or large items on either public or private property. Due to the low visibility created by high brush lines, local streams typically take the brunt of the mess. A few discarded shopping carts or a heap of tires can pollute waterways, increase flood hazards, and destroy wildlife habitats.

Here are four ways you can help us be friendlier to our environment and keep our community clean:

1. Household Hazardous Waste Collection.

When it comes to recycling or disposing of medications, computers, televisions, gasoline, oils pesticides, herbicides, antifreeze, paint, batteries and more, Brazos Valley residents should take advantage of free Household Hazardous Waste Collection events every spring and fall. The next one is Saturday, Oct. 21 from 7 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Texas A&M University Services Building located on Harvey Road east of Veterans Parks & Athletic Complex.

2. Recycling and solid waste programs.

The City of College Station’s single-stream recycling program allows you to place your recyclables in one container. The only item you need to bag in clear plastic is shredded paper. Visit cstx.gov/recycle to learn about the city’s solid waste and recycling programs.

Other resources may include private companies which can recycle or dispose of certain types of waste such as tires or construction materials. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality offers a list of statewide resources for recycling or special waste disposal.

3. Clean-up events and stewardship organizations.

The City of College Station offers several volunteer programs to get you directly involved in helping our environment:

  • Adopt-A-Street enhances the appearance of our community by beautifying and maintaining a street or section of a street.
  • Adopt-A-Greenway helps residents and businesses play an active role in cleaning up and beautifying our open spaces, creeks and multi-use paths/trails. The City of College Station partners with Keep Brazos Beautiful to coordinate the program.
  • Only Rain down the Drain Campaign encourages individuals or groups to place decals on neighborhood storm drain inlets that read “Don’t Dump. Drains to River.

4. If you see it, report it!

If you come across illegally dumped materials or see someone dumping illegally, report it by contacting Code Enforcement at 979-764-6363 or codeenforcement@cstx.gov, or use the popular SeeClickFix mobile app.

 


About the Blogger

Debbie Stickles is starting her third year as the city’s engineering program specialist. She previously worked as an engineering specialist in the Railroad Commission of Texas’ Oil & Gas Division from 2014-15.  A native of Carrizo Springs, Debbie received a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering from Texas A&M-Kingsville in 2013.


 

Photo Copyright: antpkr / 123RF Stock Photo

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Improvements along FM2818 to boost safety, mobility

By James Robertson, Assistant Traffic Engineer

It’s not exactly a secret that traffic flow remains a dominant issue as College Station continues to expand.

One of our most heavily congested corridors is FM2818 (Harvey Mitchell Parkway) from Holleman Drive to George Bush Drive. Consequently, the surging traffic volume has led to a significant increase in crashes in that area.

The problem isn’t being ignored. Far from it.

College Station is working closely with other local agencies to reduce these incidents in both the long and short-term.

Long-term mitigation by the Bryan-College Station Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Texas Department of Transportation includes widening FM2818 and restricting turning movements at driveways. The City of College Station will join TxDOT – which maintains many of our roads, including 2818 – to conduct a public meeting about the widening project later this year.

In the short term, the College Station Public Works Department has pursued lower-cost operational changes that achieve three primary objectives:

  1. Decrease crashes at signalized intersections by installing protected-only green left-turn indications.
  2. Decrease left-turn lane waiting at FM2818 and Holleman by increasing green time for FM2818 left-turns.
  3. Decrease travel time along FM2818 between Bush and Holleman by increasing the green time for FM2818.

To achieve these objectives, our traffic signal technicians have worked with the city’s traffic engineering staff to implement and calibrate new signal timing plans. We’ve installed protected-only green left-turn arrows at the intersection of FM2818 with Holleman, Bush and Luther Drives.

Using Bluetooth readers installed as part of our Intelligent Transportation System Master Plan, we’ve seen substantial improvements in travel times along FM2818 between Bush and Holleman.

We measured peak morning and evening travel times on Sept. 7 – before the timings were installed – and again on Sept. 27 after installation. The following graphs show that cars are moving faster and the duration of slow traffic is shorter. In fact, the drive from Welsh to F&B Road at 8 a.m. was almost 6½ minutes faster. The drive from F&B to Holleman at 5:45 p.m. was about 3½ minutes better.

Evening Peak Data

Morning Peak Data

Calibrating the new signal timing plans has taken a couple of weeks, and we appreciate the public’s patience. Some of the changes we tried also caused problems in the morning peak time. We worked quickly to get those issues resolved.

The Traffic Engineering Division will continue to monitor travel times along this corridor and work with our partner agencies to improve mobility along this corridor and the entire system.

 


About the Blogger

James Robertson is in his fourth year as College Station’s assistant traffic engineer. He also did extensive graduate work with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute while attending Texas A&M, where he earned master’s (2011) and doctorate (2015) degrees in civil engineering with an emphasis on transportation. James received bachelor’s degrees in civil engineering from Michigan State (2008) and psychology from Notre Dame (2007).


 

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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

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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:

streets8

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

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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
Non-Residential
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
Residential
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 anettles@cstx.gov.

 


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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