Dallas Alley Problems Spark Talk of Trash Collection Changes

Dallas may consider bringing garbage cans out of the alleys

By Ken Kalthoff
|  Tuesday, Jan 3, 2012  |  Updated 9:38 PM CDT
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Neighbors debate between alley and curbside trash collection.

Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5

Neighbors debate between alley and curbside trash collection.

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Dallas City leaders Wednesday will be asked to consider changes in trash collection methods because of alley problems.

A briefing for the Council says 47 percent of the 1,402 miles of alleys in Dallas are rated unsatisfactory because of decay or damage from heavy garbage truck traffic.

Many older alleys are narrow and overgrown.

It would cost an estimated $544 million to make all alleys satisfactory by 2020.

The briefing suggests removing more trash collection from alleys, abandoning some alleys entirely and forbidding alleys in future Dallas neighborhoods.

Some neighborhoods with narrow alleys have switched to street trash collection already but residents have mixed feelings about the change.

The alley behind Steve Ng’s Lake Highlands area home is in poor condition and he was pleased to take his trash bins to the street instead.

"I was happy I guess to help out the city because it’s a lot cheaper for them to do the street rather than the alley," Ng said.

Single operator side loading automated trucks can work in the wider street area whereas two man collection crews work with a driver on rear loading trucks in narrow alleys.

Resident Gordon Kirkpatrick preferred the appearance of his street with trash bins in the alley.

"Now you have the heavy trucks out on the street. Heavy trucks out on the street lead to more street maintenance, tearing up the streets faster," he said.

Kirkpatrick said abandoning alleys could increase the opportunity for criminals.

"There’s going to be some terrible, terrible passageways that could also lead to hiding of crime, and getting away from the police if cars can’t go down there, but the individuals could run down them once they’ve overgrown," he said.

If Council Members choose not to give up on alleys, the briefing says additional maintenance spending of $19 million a year could at least bring 75 percent of the alleys up to satisfactory condition by 2020.

Some of the extra money could come from a public improvement bond referendum expected in November.

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