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Killeen firefighters help water grass along State Highway 195

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Posted: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 11:45 pm

Killeen firefighters aren’t just using water from their trucks to fight fires this summer. They’re also watering the grass along area highways.

The city recently entered into an agreement with the state for the maintenance and irrigation of the landscape along State Highways 195 and 201 within the city limits; however, the fire department watering the grass along the highway Tuesday was “supplemental.”

Hilary Shine, city spokeswoman, said the fire department watered the area in an effort to “establish vegetation” as part of the final completion of the State Highways 195 and 201 project, and is not part of the agreement the Killeen City Council recently approved with the Texas Department of Transportation.

“Because of the recent heat and lack of rain, daily supplemental watering has been necessary to preserve the new vegetation in this area,” Shine said. “If rain comes as predicted at the end of this week, supplemental watering won’t be necessary until the ground dries again.”

Shine said public works trucks also water the area, but fire trucks have been used because their hoses reach a wide area of land. The cost incurred for fuel and watering is estimated between $100 and $200 per watering.

TxDOT Agreement

According to city documents, the agreement for maintenance and irrigation of vegetation along State Highways 195 and 201 is part of the pass-through financing project that began in October 2011. The project was funded through TxDOT’s program that requires the city to pay upfront costs before reimbursement by the state.

Shine said after an inspection once the project is completed, TxDOT will begin reimbursing the city. Payments are expected to be about $1 million a year for the next 13 years.

“Establishing vegetation qualifies the city for $13 million in construction reimbursement, helps control runoff and beautifies the southern gateway to Killeen,” she said.

On July 22, the council gave the city authorization to enter into a contract with TxDOT that holds the city accountable for the maintenance and irrigation of landscaping. The landscaping is funded by the pass-through financing program at a cost of $5,120 through the closing of the project, which is about 16 more months.

Shine said the agreement requires the city to maintain the irrigation system, including repairs and maintenance of the plant beds. She said crews from the city’s parks and recreation and environmental services departments will perform those duties.

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