Public Works

Video: Why are there cameras on traffic signal arms?

In this episode of “Actually…,” City Traffic Engineer Troy Rother says people often often mistake the purpose of the cameras mounted on top of traffic signal mast arms. The cameras simply detect vehicles at the intersection and give them a green light so they don’t have to wait as long.

– Public Communications Office


Video: Replacing skateboards with drainage technology

In this episode of “Actually…,” Drainage Division Manager Marshall Wallace says thanks to new technology, city employees don’t have to use skateboards anymore to enter the pipes and inspect or repair our vital drainage infrastructure.

– Public Communications Office


Video: Waste & Recycling Workers Week

This is Waste and Recycling Workers Week! We offer our sincere thanks to the hard-working men and women who keep our neighborhoods and streets safe and clean. Your dedication and tireless work are valued and appreciated!

– Public Communications Office

 


Public works boosts our community’s quality of life

By Wally Urrutia, Solid Waste Manager

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 streets, traffic operations, stormwater drainage, fleet maintenance, public building maintenance, recycling, and solid waste collection. These services are vital to the safety, health, and high quality of life we enjoy in our growing community.

This week marks the 60th 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 “The Rhythm of Public Works,” which makes us think about our community as a symphony of essential services, working in concert to create a great place to live. Every city has a rhythm, a heartbeat that reflects its essence and tempo of life.

National Accreditation

Did you know that College Station is the only city in Texas to be nationally accredited in both public works and water services? Administered by the American Public Works Association, the accreditation program recognizes agencies that go beyond the requirements of established industry practices.

The College Station Public Works Department consists of eight divisions — Facility Maintenance, Streets, Drainage and Irrigation Maintenance, Traffic Operations, Solid Waste/Recycling, Fleet Services, and Administration. Our employees deliver essential services 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 30,000 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

Solid Waste Division Manager Wally Urrutia is in his 33rd 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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20 ways to celebrate the 50th Earth Day

By Caroline Ask, Environmental Compliance & Recycling Manager

In 1970, 20 million people mobilized to call for greater protections for our planet. The event became the world’s first Earth Day.

Earth Day has since become the largest secular observance in the world. More than 190 countries and a billion people celebrate it as a day to encourage positive changes in behavior that benefit our environment.

Since Wednesday is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we offer these creative and innovative ways to do your part:

  1. Take a walk to identify native plant species in your area — or simply enjoy your surroundings.
  2. Craft a nature collage from items found on your walk.
  3. Compost your food waste.
  4. Avoid using herbicides or pesticides before rain events.
  5. Clean out your closet, but instead of throwing your old clothes away, donate them.
  6. Check out NASA’s Earth Day 2020: 50th Anniversary Toolkit.
  7. Calculate your carbon footprint.
  8. Research how to start a backyard garden and ways to support helpful insects and pollinators.
  9. When shopping, use reusable bags. However, some retailers are recommending the use of plastic bags until the COVID-19 outbreak subsides.
  10. Identify the types of accepted recyclables in College Station.
  11. Learn how to dispose of household hazardous waste Our next collection event is Oct. 24.
  12. Follow the Brazos Valley WaterSmart network to use efficient watering techniques for your lawn.
  13. Join a virtual Earth Day
  14. Turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth.
  15. Turn off the lights when you leave a room.
  16. Construct a rainwater harvesting barrel for landscape irrigation.
  17. Repurpose jars and other containers as beverage glasses or small bowls.
  18. Serve a fun Earth Day-inspired dessert such as dirt pudding to teach your kids about the importance of soil.
  19. Plant a tree.
  20. Tag us with your Earth Day activities using the hashtag #BVEarthDay2020.

Happy Earth Day!

 


About the Blogger

Carolina Ask is in her third year with the city and her first as the environmental compliance and recycling manager. She previously served as an engineering program specialist and environmental inspector. Caroline previously held environmental health positions at Texas A&M and Houston’s Texas Children’s Hospital. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Bioenvironmental Sciences from A&M in 2012.


 

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Be sure to Scoop the Poop when walking your pet

By Caroline Ask, Environmental Compliance & Recycling Manager

With residents sheltered at home during the COVID-19 outbreak, many find welcome relief by walking their dogs and enjoying the spring sunshine. Unfortunately, reports of pet waste left in our streets, roadways, and parks have increased significantly.

One pile of pet waste might not seem like much, but more than 29,000 domestic pets live in College Station. Our furry friends generate hundreds of pounds of waste every day. If the waste isn’t disposed of properly (it takes a year to fully break down), storm runoff can wash it into local waterways and discharge it directly into creeks.

The contaminated runoff affects our water quality and creates genuine health risks as a source of E. coli and nutrient pollution. Fecal matter from dogs and other urban animals can also cause GiardiaParvoroundwormsSalmonella, and other viruses and parasites.

So what should you do when walking your pet? 

Carry a scooper and use the baggie as a glove. Scoop the poop, invert and seal the bag, then toss it in the trash. If you allow your animal to defecate on someone else’s property or in public areas without removing it, you’re breaking the law.

Be a responsible, courteous, and law-abiding pet owner — always Scoop the Poop.

 


About the Blogger

Carolina Ask is in her third year with the city and her first as the environmental compliance and recycling manager. She previously served as an engineering program specialist and environmental inspector. Caroline previously held environmental health positions at Texas A&M and Houston’s Texas Children’s Hospital. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Bioenvironmental Sciences from A&M in 2012.


 

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How you can help solid waste collections run smoothly

By Wally Urrutia, Solid Waste Manager 

Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak, the City of College Station’s Solid Waste Division continues to provide essential solid waste collection services to our residents.

Since Mayor Karl Mooney issued the shelter-in-place order last week, we’ve seen an increase in household garbage, recycling, and bulk waste. At the same time, we’ve temporarily reduced service days to one or two a week for our commercial business customers — mostly restaurants.

On average, each of our collection trucks collects waste from 1,300 homes a day. We ask for your patience and understanding as our solid waste workers do their best to take care of our community’s needs as safely and efficiently as we can.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Secure all household garbage bags in your bins. Don’t place loose items.
  • Place your residential carts at least three feet away from obstructions.
  • Don’t place household garbage out on your bulk day. It can create health risks for our workers.
  • Minimize your large bulk/brush items to minimize additional hours of work and help our crews get home to their families.

We also encourage you to download the College Station Curbside app to stay informed about solid waste and recycling collection.

For more information, go to cstx.gov or call the Solid Waste Division at 979-764-3690.

 


About the Blogger

Solid Waste Division Manager Wally Urrutia is in his 33rd 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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How businesses and apartments can recycle, too

By Caroline Ask, Environmental Compliance & Recycling Manager

Just about everyone recognizes that recycling and appropriate sustainability habits are vital to our well-being as a community. That’s why the City of College Station promotes and implements relevant practices, including providing low-cost recycling services for as many of our residents as possible.

While our community loves the recycling collection services the city has in our single-family residential areas, we don’t currently offer these services to businesses and multi-family dwellings such as apartments.

But that doesn’t mean your business or apartment complex doesn’t have recycling options. You can still commission services from private recycling businesses that are franchised to collect here.

The goal of the city’s recycling program is to decrease the amount of waste that enters the landfill by diverting eligible materials for recycling. We recycle efficiently to keep contamination at a minimum. And not all waste is contaminated, despite what it may seem.

Recycling contamination refers to non-recyclable materials or garbage that ends up in the recycling system. Materials may be non-recyclable because of a lack of market value, the unavailability of adequate processing infrastructure, or something as simple as residual food particles – such as greasy pizza boxes.

For a recycling program to function properly, residents must take precautions to minimize contamination. Our Solid Waste Division recently conducted a yearlong feasibility study that identified a high rate of recycling contamination as one of our most significant challenges.

In most instances, tenants relocate recyclables from their apartment units to a complex-wide collection bin, which is typically placed next to a solid waste dumpster. Unfortunately, some tenants seem to think the recycling bin is just another place to put their garbage. That makes it significantly more difficult to identify the source of contamination or even illegal dumping practices at communal containers.

Our study found that centralized recycling collection at apartments leads to materials that are so highly contaminated that they can only be hauled to the landfill. Subsequently, door-to-door collections where the generating resident could be identified and informed would be the only effective means for a successful multi-family program. High resident turnover in multi-family complexes complicates the process even more.

We must overcome many formidable hurdles before we can provide city-wide recycling for apartments and other multi-family residences in an economical, efficient way. We are always striving to find better ways to encourage responsible sustainability practices and improve the valued services we provide.

 


About the Blogger

Carolina Ask is in her third year with the city and her first as the environmental compliance and recycling manager. She previously served as an engineering program specialist and environmental inspector. Caroline previously held environmental health positions at Texas A&M and Houston’s Texas Children’s Hospital. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Bioenvironmental Sciences from A&M in 2012.


 

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Never miss your waste collection day again

By Caroline Ask, Environmental Compliance & Recycling Manager

How often have you been leisurely enjoying your morning coffee when you suddenly hear a large truck rumbling down your street?

You instantly know what it means — it’s your solid waste or recycling collection day, and you forgot to place your bin at the curb line.

Most of the time, College Station residents do an exceptional job of helping our collections run smoothly, but now it’s even easier with our improved free mobile app, which is called College Station Curbside. It replaces the outdated MyWaste/Recycle Coach app.

College Station Curbside’s straightforward, uncomplicated design makes staying informed about solid waste and recycling collection almost effortless. You can quickly find the garbage, recycling, and bulk/brush pickup collection schedule specific to your address and set the app to remind you of your collection days.

If you don’t have an Apple or Android smartphone, you can use our online My Schedule tool. Through My Schedule, you can sign up to receive waste collection reminders by email, phone, or text message. You can also print or download the schedule into your iCal, Google, or Microsoft Outlook calendar.

You’ll never again forget to put out your garbage, recycling, or bulk/brush items.

And you can enjoy that steaming hot cup of coffee in peace.

 

 

 


About the Blogger

Carolina Ask is in her third year with the city but her first as the environmental compliance and recycling manager. She previously served as an engineering program specialist and environmental inspector. Before joining the city, Caroline held environmental health positions at Texas A&M and at Houston’s Texas Children’s Hospital. She earned a bachelor’s in Bioenvironmental Sciences from Texas A&M in 2012.


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What’s the deal with the signal timing on University?

By Troy Rother, City Traffic Engineer

Few things are more frustrating than being stuck in seemingly endless traffic.

If you’ve driven down University Drive in Northgate in the last couple of weeks, you’ve probably faced extraordinarily long wait times. A soon as you go through a green light, the next light turns red. At times, it takes 15 or 20 minutes to travel a single mile.

Let me assure you, we share your frustration and apologize deeply for the inconvenience.

Allow me to explain what’s behind all the chaos. It won’t ease your frustration, but at least you’ll know what’s going on.

Our contractor activated the reconstructed Northgate traffic signals on Aug. 22. Regrettably, the signal contractor didn’t have his subcontractors present for the activation as the city had directed. As a result, the detection systems didn’t function properly, which caused the traffic signal to give the maximum green time for all approaches — even if a vehicle wasn’t present on that approach.

Rest assured we’re working diligently with the subcontractors to correct the problem. We’ve developed coordinated timing plans for the corridor and are installing them this week. We’re also working on camera activation, emergency vehicle recognition, and getting the signals to talk to one another.

That said, it’s essential to keep in mind that the focus of the entire project is pedestrian safety in an area bustling with thousands of students. Recent pedestrian accidents in the area – including several tragic fatalities – led the city to work with the university and the Texas Department of Transportation to make necessary changes.

The good news is that we expect to have the final timings installed the week of Sept. 9. The complex project was supposed to be finished months ago, but weather and utility conflicts created numerous delays.

When fully implemented, the signal timings will have an exclusive pedestrian-only phase for walking and cycling traffic to cross University Drive or the minor roadway at the intersection. During this time, all vehicular traffic will be stopped, including right-turning vehicles.

The pedestrian-only phase will undoubtedly create delays for motorists, but benefits include a safer situation for pedestrians and no pedestrian conflicts for vehicles attempting to turn onto University Drive. For example, we observed traffic at the Nagle intersection this week and saw 12 vehicles turning left onto University instead of the usual four because the vehicles didn’t have to wait for pedestrians to cross during motorists’ green light.

Our overriding goal will always be to operate and maintain a safe and efficient transportation system. Unfortunately, the complexities involved sometimes create frustrations and inconveniences for us all. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

 


About the Blogger

Troy Rother has been College Station’s city traffic engineer since 2003. He previously served as an engineer with the Texas Department of Transportation and in the private sector with Wilbur Smith Associates. Troy earned bachelor’s (1997) and master’s (1998) degrees in civil engineering from Texas A&M.


 

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Don’t mistake our street signs for souvenirs

By Lee Robinson, Traffic Systems Division Manager

Most people know traffic and street signs are vital to not only find your way around but to keep you and your family safe. Unfortunately, some folks seem to think those bright, reflective signs are better suited for trophies, souvenirs, or apartment decorations.

Several years ago, stop signs were the favored target, but street signs are more popular these days, especially those with common themes. In 2018, the most popular signs for thieves were from the same neighborhood west of the Wellborn-Rock Prairie intersection:

1. Papa Bear (stolen 6 times)

2. Momma Bear (5)

3. Goldilocks, Baby Bear, and Airborne (tied at 4)

The city’s Traffic Operations Division uses the latest in tamper-proof hardware to secure our signs, but resourceful thieves always seem to find a way to steal them anyway, sometimes taking the entire sign post assembly with cutting torches or smooth-cut power saws.

In 2018, we had 141 signs reported as missing or stolen. That’s down a bit from past years, but’s it’s still too many. The cost of replacing each sign averages about $200 and can be as much as $275, depending on the situation. That means last year’s price tag for replacing missing signs totaled more than $28,000.

The cost of the sign and hardware itself is just the start. We also have to factor in the staff time required to go to the location, assess what’s needed, repair any site damage, and install the new sign. In some cases, we can’t put the new sign in the original spot. When that happens, state and federal laws require us to call 811 to locate utility lines before digging elsewhere, a process that creates a delay of 2-3 days.

We maintain more than 15,000 traffic and street signs in our system, so we have plenty to do without replacing those that end up on apartment walls. If you thinking taking a sign isn’t a big deal, think again.

It’s against the law, and if you have one, you’ll be prosecuted.

 


About the Blogger

Traffic Systems Division Manager Lee Robinson is in his 36th year with the City of College Station.


 

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Public Works’ new truck engineered to save lives

 

By Wally Urrutia, Solid Waste Division Manager

Working on and around roadways and heavy trucks has always been a hazardous job. Thankfully, as technology evolves, our equipment is becoming safer.

The Public Works Department’s new attenuator truck is designed to save lives and lessen the risk of injury in work zones. The mounted device — also known as a crash cushion — absorbs the kinetic injury created by colliding vehicles, reducing the damage to vehicles and the injuries to motorists and workers.

Here’s a closer look at how it works:

The attenuator has become a necessary safety device for highway work zones across the country and will be shared by all divisions in our department.

Since our workers don’t have a giant, friendly Transformer to protect them from harm, we now have the next best thing.

 


About the Blogger

Solid Waste Division Manager Wally Urrutia is in his 32nd 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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Public works boosts our quality of life

By Wally Urrutia, Solid Waste Division Manager

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, stormwater drainage, fleet maintenance, public building maintenance, recycling, and solid waste collection. These services are vital to the safety, health, and high quality of life we enjoy in our growing community.

This week marks the 59th 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 “It Starts Here,” which represents the many facets of modern civilization that grow out of the efforts of the public works professionals.

What starts here? Infrastructure, growth, innovation, mobility, security, and healthy communities are all significant aspects, but the bottom line is that our citizens’ quality of life starts with public works.

National Accreditation

Did you know that College Station is the only city of our size (80,000-150,000 population) in Texas to be nationally accredited in both Public Works and Water Services? 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 130 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 30,000 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.

Mayor Karl Mooney proclaimed this Public Works Week in College Station at the May 13 city council meeting:

 


About the Blogger

Solid Waste Division Manager Wally Urrutia is in his 32nd 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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University Drive pedestrian upgrades near completion

By Troy Rother, City Traffic Engineer

Early last year, the city began constructing sidewalks, medians and traffic signals to improve safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers on University Drive along the Texas A&M campus. The project was inconvenient and frustrating, but it was necessary for an area that continues to grow and expand.

When the project is finished early this summer, you’ll need to pay close attention to what’s changed about pedestrian and vehicle movement. The physical improvements include:

  • Medians on University Drive to create refuge areas for pedestrians at intersections.
  • New traffic signals that improve pedestrian flow across the roadway.
  • Shared-use paths to accommodate more pedestrians and bike users.
  • Repaved traffic lanes and new landscaping.

Figure 1

We’ll also deploy an upgraded new traffic signal operation plan to take advantage of the latest technology and provide added green time where needed. The new timing plan creates a pedestrian-only signal phase, stopping vehicles long enough to allow pedestrians sufficient time to cross safely. Since vehicles can no longer make left or right turns into your crosswalk, they will be stopped while you cross the street.

The signal will allow traffic to move on University, then the intersecting street will be allowed to go (Figure 1), followed by the pedestrian-only phase (Figure 2). Drivers with a green light won’t have to wait for the crosswalk to clear before they can go.

Figure 2

For example, under current operations, drivers turning left from Nagle Street onto University must wait for a break in the steady stream of pedestrians crossing near the Mitchell Physics Building. Typical signal timings allow vehicles to move in the same direction as pedestrians, but the large number of pedestrians crossing University at that intersection limits the number of left-turning vehicles to about four per cycle. The new phasing will let more cars turn left with the same amount of green signal time because they don’t have to wait for the pedestrians.

Figure 3 shows the usual signal operation at an intersection where pedestrians (the yellow arrows) cross with parallel vehicular movement (the black arrows).  Notice the conflict points where the yellow and black arrows cross? That is the point where the vehicular traffic must yield to the pedestrians, which slows down traffic and leads walkers to worry about drivers yielding.

Figure 3

No one wins in that situation.

The separate pedestrian phase creates some delay for vehicles on University, increasing the average travel time from Wellborn Road to South College Avenue by about one minute.

But it’ll still be faster than what it’s been during construction.

Gig ‘em!

 


About the Blogger

Troy Rother is in his 16th year as the city’s traffic engineer. He previously served two years as a transportation engineer with the Texas Department of Transportation and two years with Wilbert Smith Associates. Troy earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from Texas A&M and is a member of the Institute of Transportation Engineers and the American Society of Civil Engineers.


 

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New sanitation schedules and rates start in July

By Heather Woolwine, Recycling & Environmental Compliance Manager

College Station’s continued growth has led to significant changes to the city’s sanitation and recycling collection schedules, as well as the first increase in sanitation rates since 2006. The changes all go into effect in July.

The new schedule will reduce the number of missed collections that frequently occur when residents place their trash and recycling bins too close to each other or another obstruction. When that happens, our drivers can’t empty the bins safely or efficiently.

Your recycling day will change, while your trash and brush/bulky day may change. Go to the following link to identify the collection days for your neighborhood:

Solid Waste Collection Rates

No one likes to pay more for anything, but no business can operate efficiently if its revenues don’t keep up with costs.  It’s been 12 years since the last adjustment in residential solid waste collection fees, and the old rates no longer recover the cost of providing the outstanding level of service you’ve come to expect.

Our population today is about 118,000, almost 50 percent more than in 2006 when we had just under 79,000 residents. The new rates remain competitive with other Texas cities our size.

The new residential rate, which was approved by the city council on June 14, is rising from $14.40 to $16.00 per month. Beginning in October 2019, the rate will be indexed to the annual change in the consumer price index, which measures inflation.

Go to the following link for a detailed breakdown of the new residential and commercial collection fees:

Here are some helpful reminders regarding trash and recycling collection:

Bin Placement

Garbage and recycling containers must be placed at the curb in front of your residence before 8 a.m. on your designated collection day. Remember to place the bins with both wheels pointed toward the curb, and the lids should be closed at all times.

Because our sanitation and recycling trucks use an automated arm to lift and empty the bins, don’t place your containers closer than four feet from an obstruction that would prevent collection, such as other containers, mailboxes, cars or trees. Other obstructions that can result in your bin not being emptied include placing it under low-hanging tree limbs, cables, or electrical wires, or close to water or gas meters.

City ordinance requires you to remove your garbage and recycling containers from the curb within 12 hours of collection.

Trash Collection

Garbage should be bagged, tied and securely stored in your container. If you pile bags or trash on top or around your container, the sanitation truck’s automated arm won’t be able to collect it. Items too large to fit in your garbage container should be neatly placed on the curb for bulk collection.

Brush and Bulk Collection

Bulk collection is for items too big to fit in your garbage container, such as furniture, non-Freon containing household appliances, etc. It does not include bags of household garbage.

Please consider donating your gently used items before placing them on the curb. Some non-profit organizations will even come to your house to pick them up.

Brush collection includes tree limbs, shrubs, and herbaceous or woody plants and vines. Brush should be cut into a maximum of 8-foot lengths. Brush and bulk items should be divided into separate piles and neatly stacked within three feet of the curb in front of your home.

Recyclables

Citizens with blue, single-stream recycling containers collected by Brazos Valley Recycling are encouraged to review the list of acceptable items printed on top of each container. Only clean items should be put in the container, and anything not on the list should be put in the garbage instead.

Shredded paper is the only recyclable that should be placed in clear plastic bags. Bagging other items isn’t necessary and could cause significant and costly damage to the sorting equipment.

MyWaste App        

Don’t forget to download our free MyWaste app from your favorite app store. It’s the easiest way to keep up with your collection schedule and receive updates from the Sanitation Department.

For more information, contact me at hwoolwine@cstx.gov.

 


About the Blogger

Heather Woolwine has been with the City of College Station for 13 years and has been recycling and environmental compliance manager since 2014. She served as the city’s recycling coordinator from 2007-14. Heather 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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Public works enhances our community’s 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, stormwater drainage, fleet maintenance, public building maintenance, recycling and solid waste collection. These services are vital to the safety, health and high quality of life we enjoy in our growing community.

This week marks the 58th 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 “The Power of Public Works,” which celebrates the impact public works has on modern civilization.

National Accreditation

Did you know that College Station is the only city of our size (80,000-150,000 population) in Texas to be nationally accredited in both Public Works and Water Services? 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 124 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.

Mayor Karl Mooney proclaimed this Public Works Week in College Station at the May 14 city council meeting:

(L-R) Mark Mcauliffe, Troy Rother, Raquel Gonzales, Susan Monnat, Mayor Karl Mooney, Donald Harmon, Martin Mcgehee, Jason Best.

Read the Proclamation

 


About the Blogger

Sanitation Superintendent Wally Urrutia is in his 31st 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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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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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

BV_Recycling

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 cstx.gov/recycle or download the free MyWaste app. If you have a missed collection, report it as soon as possible by emailing your street address to RecycleRequests@cstx.gov 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 cstx.gov/recycle or contact me at hwoolwine@cstx.gov 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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