The Austin City Council approved a contract today, March 28 that will transition the role of providing cleanup services under highway overpasses from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to the City of Austin.
“This is an important service that requires a partnership approach,” remarked Terry McCoy, TxDOT Austin district engineer. “This transition will allow the state to continue to focus resources on litter cleanup along the highways, while allowing the City to provide crucial services to individuals experiencing homelessness”
TxDOT first began under-bridge cleanups several years ago to ensure the safety of its workers during bridge inspections. Three years ago, in the face of increasing trash volumes and complaints from the community, TxDOT expanded the service to monthly cleanups performed under its district-wide debris contract. TxDOT and the City are working as partners to deal with this challenging issue. The increasing number of people experiencing homelessness in Austin has resulted in a need for the state to transition the duties to the City, which is better equipped to provide outreach and services to the population at risk.
The new debris contract will provide once-per-month cleanups at approximately 61 highway underpass locations within the Austin city limits. The frequency and level of service match the previous TxDOT contract, which concluded under-bridge cleanups in February.
“Both TxDOT and the City of Austin have a shared interest in keeping these areas maintained, and we appreciate TxDOT’s efforts over the past few years,” said Richard Mendoza, director of Austin’s Public Works department. “Homelessness is an important issue, and these services are only a minor step in a much larger effort.”
Following today’s vote, City staff will finalize a contract with the same vendor that was providing services under TxDOT’s purview. As has been done over the past few years, advance notification will be provided to the homeless community about upcoming cleanups. City departments, including Austin Police, Municipal Court, and Code Compliance, will continue their involvement with these monthly cleanups.
TxDOT will remain a working partner with the City by maintaining the roadways around these areas and clearing litter. Meanwhile, the cleaning of homeless camps or removal of illegal dumping will transition to the City of Austin.
Communications and Public Information Office
301 W. 2nd Street, Austin, TX 78701