True to his word, David Greear of Travis County’s road maintenance department sent a crew to cut the grass along Lost Oasis Hollow within a few days after the problem was reported to him by the Gazette. The response from the city was not as prompt. – photo by Tony Tucci
by Tony Tucci
Weeds are growing out of control on some streets and sidewalks in Austin and Travis County, prompting one Oak Hill resident to launch a campaign for better maintenance.
The problem is area-wide, but Angela Street notices it in the places she frequents in Oak Hill and surrounding areas.
“These common areas are not being properly maintained and only attract more blight,” said Street. “If the city, county and state neglect these areas, you can expect the citizens to do the same; hence more graffiti and trash.”
Street sent an e-mail describing the situation to city and county officials, but she said only one of them, Councilmember Bill Spellman, offered to help. “One of them told me to call 311,” she said.
“It seems that in the past year they’ve stopped weed-eating and mowing,” she said. “Taxes keep going up, but services keep going down.”
Street lives in the Windmill Run neighborhood, and said she is familiar only with the streets she travels. Some of the streets where there are overgrown weeds are Brodie Lane north of Slaughter, Old Fredericksburg Road near the Oak Hill Post Office, I-35 at Ben White Boulevard, Southwest Parkway, and U.S. Highway 183 near Burnet Road.
“The interchange along (U.S. Highway) 183 and Burnet Road is one of the worst unkept places in town, with debris, trash and overgrown weeds on the medians and access roads,” said Street. “Southwest Parkway all the way to AMD is littered with trash on both sides of the road. Ben White Boulevard has weeds growing along the highway, and I have never seen the vegetation at I-35 and Ben White tended to in years.”
Street also noted weeds covering the sidewalks along Brodie Lane and the median area along 290 West by the Oak Hill Post Office. She said Lake Austin Boulevard and MoPac has weeds covering the road and sidewalk area along with trash.
Travis County’s road maintenance division reported that the county mows its rights of way three times a year, following a schedule divided by districts. “We do our first mowing in the spring, right after the bluebonnet season,” said David Greear, a traffic project manager with the division. He said in addition to mowing, the county sprays herbicides to control the weeds.
Greear said the strip of Lost Oasis Hollow near Bailey Middle School—an area mentioned to him by the Gazette—could have been missed since it is not on a major roadway, but he said he would send a crew out as soon as possible. True to his word, the tall grass was cut within a few days
He said other areas mentioned by Street apparently are in the city of Austin’s jurisdiction. Anyone who wants to report a county right of way that needs mowing should call (512) 854-9433. If the property is within the city’s jurisdiction, persons should call 311.
Within the city, property owners are responsible for the area between the property line and the curb, after which the city’s Street and Bridge Division takes over. Major highways are the responsibility of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).
Sara Hartley, spokesperson for the city’s Public Works Department, said the city has a program to cut grass in rights of way, and it’s on schedule. She said anyone who wants to complain about a specific site should call 311.
At the request of Councilmember Spelman, Street received a letter from Carl Smart, director of the city’s Code Compliance Department, who said only two of the areas mentioned by Street are in the city’s jurisdiction.
“A compliance case was generated and the area by the Oak Hill Post Office was being mowed on Oct. 12,” Smart said.
Smart reported that vegetation in the medians dividing Brodie Lane is the city’s responsibility and was being mowed the week of November 17-21. Vegetation along the sidewalks along Brodie is the responsibility of the adjacent property owners.
Smart said the city filed an online complaint with TxDOT regarding the other properties Street mentioned.
Street said she would continue to pursue the matter with TxDOT.
“I’m going to keep complaining until somebody does something about it,” Street said.
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