WESLACO — Too often in the Valley, once the rubber no longer meets the road, it’s ending up in a ditch.
The second “Road to Recycling” regional tire collection project consists of 41 Valley sites where residents of that city or county precinct can drop off up to four tires for free disposal this Saturday.
All of the sites will be open from 9 a.m. to noon, although some may remain open into the afternoon.
County and local officials gathered here on Tuesday at the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council on what ironically was a decade and a day after the landfall of Hurricane Dolly.
Like last month’s record-setting rains, severe drainage problems occurred in many areas a decade ago when the hurricane hit, and officials say during both events abandoned tires clogging drainage ditches made flooding problems much worse.
Ricardo Saldana, Hidalgo County emergency management coordinator, said he understands why tires can stack up in and around homes.
“You’re not wanting to pay the disposal fee when you change tires, so you take them home,” he said. “In the long run, they end up in somebody’s garbage or drainage ditch.
“We just saw it recently in the last month,” Saldana added. “It impacted a lot of our drainage ditches and floodways. So with the cooperation of the tri-county area, and all these communities involved, we need to reach out to the communities and bring those tires in for us to get them out.”
Ron Garza, executive director of the development council, said even as flooding was occurring across the Valley last month, officials with various drainage districts were sending his agency photos of how abandoned tires were choking flood-control systems.
He said those pictures showed how a single tire, or two or three, can jam up drains and prevent water from flowing into the system, causing localized flooding.
“Water and flood control projects, they’re expensive,” he added. “We’re always advocating in this area for million-dollar projects for flood control, but all it takes is maybe a couple hundred dollars of used tires to make a $20 million project null and void.
“I know cities and counties and all the jurisdictions spend a lot of time continually trying to do clean-up” of drainage systems, Garza said. “Especially this time of year. But as we’ve heard many, many times, they’ll clean up and within a matter of days, batches of 20-plus tires are right back there.”
The “Road to Recycling” tire collection and recovery effort is being led by the development council in partnership with Cameron, Willacy and Hidalgo counties and cities within their boundaries.
On Saturday, 41 city and county collection sites will be taking tires. City residents and rural residents who reside outside municipalities can find their location to drop off up to four tires at http://www.lrgvdc.org/roadtorecycling.html
Residents are limited to dropping off four tires and must have identification proving they live in the municipality or in the proper county precinct. No tractor tires or other oversized tires will be accepted.
Last year more than 10,000 used or abandoned tires were collected through the initiative, said Cameron County Commissioner Sofia C. Benavides.
And flood control isn’t the only issue with old tires, she noted.
“Tires are the primary breeding source for mosquitoes which can carry diseases like Zika and dengue,” she said. “I will tell you that Precinct 1, which is my precinct, last year we found our first travel-related Zika case.”
Benavides said it “helps immensely” to collect old tires and dispose of them properly in order to keep diseases such as Zika at bay.
WHAT — “Road to Recycling” tire collection
WHERE — More than 40 locations Valley-wide
WHEN — Saturday, 9 a.m. to noon (some locations will have afternoon hours)
IDENTIFICATION — Proof of residency within collection area site required (driver’s license, utility bill, etc.)
RESTRICTIONS — Four tires per person limit, no tractor or oversized tires
COST — Free
City collection sites (residents only)
7th St. and Mike Chapa Dr.
501 N. Llano Grande
1304 Silver Ave.
100 N. Ohio St.
1201 E. Kuhn St.
1212 E. Sprague St.
8201 N. Jasman Road
424 W. Sprague St.
3102 W. Business 281
920 S. Sugar Road
2202 W. Sprague St.
323 W. 1ST St.
1201 Rosa Lane
4101 N. Bentsen Road
400 W. Veterans Blvd.
County collection sites (non-city residents)
Hidalgo Precinct 1, Mile 11 North and Mile 1 ½ West, Weslaco
Hidalgo Precinct 1, Mile 4 ½ Northeast of FM 493, Donna
Hidalgo Precinct 1, 29606 McKinley, Hargill
Hidalgo Precinct 1, 6301 Mile 1 East, Mercedes
Hidalgo Precinct 1, Mile 5 ½ West Road and Mile 21, Monte Alto
Hidalgo Precinct 2, one mile east of S. Tower Road/Border Road and El Gato, Alamo
Hidalgo Precinct 3, Mile 7 and Salida del Sol St., Penitas
Hidalgo Precinct 3, 8100 Los Ebanos Road, Alton
Hidalgo Precinct 3, Military Road ½ mile west of FM 1427, Penitas
Hidalgo Precinct 3, Military Road and FM 886, Sullivan
Hidalgo Precinct 4, 1051 N. Doolittle Road, Edinburg
For full map, go online here: http://www.lrgvdc.org/roadtorecycling.html