BENICIA — Fast-food wrappers, bottles, blown tire fragments and papers – the items of daily life can be seen scattered along Solano County’s freeways.
“There’s definitely no shortage of litter,” said Christine Corcoran, a state Department of Transportation landscape supervisor, as her pickup crew worked along Interstate 680 near the Benicia industrial park.
But Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol would like to have a litter shortage. To that end, they declared Tuesday as Litter Clean-up and Enforcement Day to increase awareness of the problem.
Litter is unsightly and costs taxpayers money, Caltrans District 4 Director Bijan Sartipi said in a press release. Last year, Caltrans spent $50 million cleaning up litter statewide. Crews collected enough garbage to fill more than 8,000 trash trucks.
Meanwhile, the CHP tries to keep litter from being tossed in the first place. It not only targets litterbugs who toss trash out a car window, but also trucks with uncovered loads. A littering ticket comes with a fine of as much as $1,000.
Corcoran’s crew consisted of seven people, six of them inmates from the California Medical Facility in Vacaville. The workers found plenty of alcohol bottles along the freeway, raising the spectre that people might be drinking and driving.
“That’s scary,” Corcoran said, noting that her work crews are along the side of the freeway.
Corcoran has also seen big litter items along freeway, such as mattresses. She recently came across a trash dump at a local vista area. Someone left behind various items from their garage, including household hazardous waste. The person also left behind old mail with an address.
Litter along freeways can end up in storm drains that go to local waterways, a state release said. Thus, a roadway eyesore can become water pollution.
Picking up litter makes the side of the freeways look better, at least for a time. Corcoran said that after a few days, litter is back again.
Her crew does more than pick up litter. On Tuesday, it also trimmed back some trees near the end of an onramp, making the sight line better.
Tuesday’s litter clean-up and enforcement event included having message signs along freeways in the Bay Area that said, “Don’t trash California.”
Go to www.donttrashcalifornia.info to find out more about the Caltrans litter pickup program.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.