Waco City Council agreed Tuesday to take control of three stretches of urban roadway the Texas Department of Transportation has maintained for decades.
Under a “turnback” agreement, the city will assume maintenance of University Parks Drive between La Salle Avenue and Interstate 35, as well as a segment of Dutton Avenue that branches off University Parks.
The city also will assume control of about 3,000 feet of North 19th Street between College Drive and Lake Shore Drive near McLennan Community College.
City officials said the future cost of maintaining the streets is outweighed by the benefit of being able to control major roadways.
City Manager Dale Fisseler said having University Parks under city control streamlines the process of planning for Baylor home football games, when the stretch is closed.
“I think Baylor had expressed an interest in having more flexibility,” Fisseler said.
The city already maintains University Parks Drive on the north side of I-35. It also maintains the section of Farm-to-Market 1637 between Waco Drive and College Drive, most of which is known locally as North 19th Street.
Bobby Littlefield, Waco district engineer for TxDOT, said his office will ensure the road segments are in top condition before handing them over to the city. Fisseler didn’t have estimates for annual maintenance costs for the segments but said the need for maintenance should be minimal in the short term.
The city over the years has taken over several stretches of road from the state, including parts of Herring Avenue, Fourth and Fifth streets and South 17th Street. The state still maintains South 18th Street, which used to be an important state highway through Waco.
Also Tuesday, the council approved 10 permits for vacation stays in residential areas, part of a continuing flood of applications. The city is seeking to bring people who rent their homes out through online services into compliance with local and state rules.
The council also heard recommendations from interim public works director Chuck Dowdell on how to address illegal dumping and litter in Waco.
Dowdell said those problems have grown in recent years, some of it coming from simple dumping and some coming from overflowing trash receptacles.
Dowdell suggested taking a firmer hand on regulating commercial bins, perhaps including approval of bin placement and a requirement to screen and secure the bins.
He also suggested hiring two new code enforcement officers dedicated to investigating illegal dumping and increasing a contract with Goodwill Industries to provide more regular cleaning of alleys and rights of way.
Councilman Dillon Meek suggested new rules on charity donation bins, many of which are run by out-of-town groups and end up with stacks of discarded furniture around them. He said he would be in favor of barring groups from outside McLennan County from putting out such bins.
“It gave me such a warm, fuzzy feeling like you wouldn’t believe,” Huff said. “Litter and waste is such an epidemic issue in Waco and across the country and the world.”