ALDOT confronts roadside litter with inaugural Spring Clean Day

ALDOT working to clean litter from highways in west Alabama
Published: Apr. 14, 2023 at 5:00 PM CDT
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - If you traveled on any state highways throughout west Alabama Friday, you may have noticed a slew of ALDOT personnel in yellow. They were on the highways picking up other people’s litter, all part of an inaugural campaign to sweep major parts of the state clean.

One crew member estimated by the time he finished on Friday, his team will have filled around 400 bags of litter.

For much of the day along Highway 69 South, Lewis Jones went about his business, picking up litter one piece at a time and didn’t mind doing it.

“The way I look at it, it provides job security that we come out and do this,” said Jones.

Still, Jones says there’s no excuse to litter anywhere, any time. After all, the trash puts Jones’ life in potential danger on a busy highway.

“You really have to be careful out here. It’s dangerous and people are not respecting us,” said Jones.

The litter is the very thing ALDOT wants to tackle. The inaugural Spring Clean Day started Friday.

First, in west Alabama, a 50-person crew on Highway 69 alone.

“Litter is a real problem for us, not just in terms of its ugliness appearance, but the fact sometimes it can cause safety issues when it clogs up our drainage features,” said Lyndi Blackburn, Assistant Engineer for ALDOT.

Blackburn says it’s anyone’s guess why people litter, but we do know this - ALDOT says it spends more than $7 million a year statewide just picking up the trash.

“That money could have been used on safety projects,” Blackburn said.

One agency leader believes education is the key.

“I think we’ve got to educate our people, need to start early with educatin’ our children that littering is not the appropriate thing to do,” said ALDOT engineer Wallace McAdory.

Back to Lewis Jones - he knows full well in a few weeks the litter could return, but for now, he wants to leave his corner of the world a little cleaner.

“What I think about is ‘wow.’ If they only knew what they were doing, if they come out and help us pick up, they wouldn’t be throwing outdoors.”

Here’s another way to look at it: The National Park Service says it takes 50 years for a tin can to decompose and 450 years for a single plastic bottle to break down.

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