A tricky balancing act: Roadside litter and highway maintenance needs

We need everyone’s help in keeping our roadways clean – by securing loads, sharing the news or adopting a highway for cleanup

By Tina Werner

As the times develop into longer, spring is slowly birth to present its telltale indicators throughout the Pacific Northwest. And whereas we would possibly be biased, it’s clear that Washington, with majestic mountains, speeding rivers, metropolis lights and Pacific Ocean beaches, is one in all the nation’s most beautiful states.

Unfortunately, inspite of such excellent landscapes, folks nonetheless opt for to throw their leftover food or deserted mattresses at the part of our highways. Many of you've expressed issues in regards to the litter you're seeing alongside our highways, rather round this time of year. It saddens us as well, and we agree that litter extensively diminishes the herbal magnificence of our Evergreen State.

We spend extra than $4 million yearly to assist blank our roadways but, sadly, inspite of such a big expenditure we’ve viewed roadside trash growth for the previous a couple of years. In early spring it’s somewhat noticeable simply due to the fact our contemporary work has concentrated on snow and ice removing and emergency repairs.

That’s why we want everyone’s assist to maintain our roadways clean.
Adopt-A-Highway volunteers pick up roadside litter alongside I-5 in the Seattle area.

Litter is a statewide problem

We get complaints about a few state highways extra than others, but roadside litter is a statewide problem.

In Seattle and Bellevue, I-5 is usually the place essentially essentially the foremost trash accumulates and the place we get essentially essentially the foremost complaints. The excessive website visitors quantities contribute to this, as do the rising homeless encampments within the area.

Further south, we see much of complaints about SR 410 in Bonney Lake. State Route 16 on equally aspects of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge is one other hotspot alongside with sections of I-5 close to the Tacoma Mall.

We attempt to reply to litter complaints promptly, but different upkeep wants – reminiscent of guardrail or pothole repair, emergency bridge or street repairs or preventative upkeep – are upper priorities.

Simply put, restricted state finances and a lengthy upkeep “to do” list, capacity litter blank up usually falls to the backside of the list.

Partnerships are key to addressing roadside litter

So, the place does our litter finances go? In fiscal 12 months 2018 our firm spent $4.4 million on litter and roadway clearing including:

Pick up and disposal of litter bags collected by teams or volunteers
Pick up and disposal of enormous debris, reminiscent of furniture, tires and useless animals
Payments to Department of Corrections work crews for litter go with up
Administration of the Adopt-A-Highway program

Our upkeep crews go with up litter as time and tools allow. Our crews also go with up bags that different teams – Adopt-A-Highway, Ecology Youth Corps, etc. – collect and depart at the area of a highway.

We understand litter is a far-reaching concern. That is why we ought to work with our companions – native government, businesses, law enforcement and the public -- to help get the task accomplished together.

This consists of sharing blank up responsibilities and running to elevate awareness to stay away from litter from occurring within the primary place.

One simple approach to do here's by nicely overlaying and tying down your masses earlier than you hit the street – even on “just brief trips” by town. It no longer basically facilitates stay away from litter, it’s also the law. Please also unfold the phrase to friends, household and neighbors. Preventing trash from reaching roadways is the greatest and easiest approach to scale back roadside trash.

Department of Corrections crews

We have collaborated with the Department of Corrections for a couple of years to help with roadside litter and different cleanup efforts on state rights of way. Their work crews are an precious addition to our total efforts. In addition to DOC crews, in a few locations, native county prison crews also are used for web web website cleanups. While they're an most very vital resource, it’s most very vital to notice that the work crews can't resolve our litter concern single-handedly.


We’re at all times in search of extra of us to enroll in our Adopt-A-Highway software the place volunteers or companies assist blank a set part of roadway.

We understand the work isn't glamorous, but it's precious and participants understand they’re doing anything tangible of their very own garden to help their community. (We offer provides and security tuition to interested groups).

In 2016, we had virtually 1,400 volunteers and 300 sponsored contractors assist in removal litter on state highways. This equates to extra than 20,000 bags of litter picked up and disposed of by our upkeep crews with approximately 4,341 miles of freeway adopted.
Pictured: Forks Elks Lodge #2524 and Forks Emblem Club #488 pick up litter
on their Adopt-A-Highway route along US 101 in Clallam County.

Volunteers from left to right: Glen King, Elbert Hampton, Gary Slyter and Bill Plumley.

Even with such valiant efforts, the litter remains. Currently, merely one-third of our roads are adopted. You can read extra about our Adopt-A-Highway application and signal as much as undertake a specific roadway online.

Applications for summer season Ecology Youth Corps are also being regular by way of means of our partners, with info accessible at the Ecology website.

We recognize our citizens take our state’s magnificence heavily – as they should. We desire that by way of means of operating together, we will all make a difference and maintain litter off our roads.


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