Svarzbein and TxDot face off in ‘Weed War’

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El Paso City Council Representative Peter Svarzbein is saying TxDot is handing off the responsibility of maintaining the landscape of state highways to the city of El Paso, but a TxDot representative says the City needs to cover those costs — with your tax dollars.

We found him on the side of Mesa Street on Sunday afternoon, weed-eater in hand. “These medians have been growing out of control now for months,” Svarzbein told us.

He says the City doesn’t have the budget to take over a job that corresponds to TxDot, so he took to social media this weekend to call out TxDot on the problem.

“The fact is that we’re here focusing on public safety of our streets and our parks and we simply don’t have the budget to be maintaining the state highways,” Svarzbein said. 

According to Svarzbein, it would cost the City roughly $2 million dollars to allocate money in the budget for maintenance, but the next fiscal year doesn’t begin for another six months.

“The problem is our fiscal budget doesn’t start until September first and it’s simply unacceptable that the state would let these medians grow so out of control full of weeds, full of trash and other things up until September,” he said.

TxDot El Paso spokesperson Jennifer Wright says they’re responsible for maintaining pavement structure on non-controlled access roadways and the City is responsible for everything else. She added that TxDot typically assists the city when resources allow, but that’s not the case right now. 

“We all agree it’s unfortunate, but it’s the economic reality. We have to, you know, fix potholes and repair pavement and guardrails people hit and our funding is going to that,” Wright told us.

Svarzbein and TxDot agree that it’s a safety concern for people to try and remove the weeds themselves since the areas are surrounded by heavy traffic. 

TxDot El Paso added that local leadership is in transition, saying they need to wait and see what a new district engineer will plan moving forward. 

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