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Major litter removal project underway across Tucson highways

KOLD News 5-5:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Feb. 3, 2022 at 5:52 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Happening now, Arizona Department of Transportation crews are finishing up day three of a major litter cleanup in Tucson.

This is happening along areas of Interstate 10 and Interstate 19. Officials say the littering problem on highways has gotten worse since the pandemic.

ADOT says they typically rely on state prison crews to pick up trash along the highway, but this week ADOT is deploying 45 crew members to tackle the issue.

They say the change is due to pandemic related restrictions. Because of the lack of resources, ADOT is pulling crews from other projects to help take out the trash.

“It’s a big use of our resources to do this. These 45 crew members, many of them are from the Tucson area but we’ve also pulled crews from as far as Nogales and Casa Grande,” ADOT public information officer Garin Groff said.

The crews have been hard at work since Tuesday. They are working ten hours each day through Friday to complete the work.

″So far in just two days, our crews have picked up nearly 21,000 pounds of trash,” Groff said.

Crews are cleaning up 25 miles of highway along I-10 from Ina to Valencia and along I-19 from I-10 to Valencia.

Groff says it’s a much larger than normal effort to work across the whole Tucson metro area at once.

″This is an ongoing problem. It’s probably more noticeable in the last two years because of the pandemic related restrictions that have mostly prevented any inmate crews from working and removing trash,” he said.

Groff says the litter problem is an issue of driver behavior and is completely preventable.

“Crew members have seen all kinds of vehicles go down the highway with the winds just picking up all kids of debris and blowing it out of the vehicles along highways. If people would secure their loads when they’re driving around in trucks, that would really provide a lot of relief,” he added.

Crews will finish up work along the highways Friday. They hope once they are done that there will be a noticeable difference.

ADOT is appealing to drivers to do what they can to keep the roads clean. Drivers can help ADOT out by reporting roadside trash violations at litter.az.gov

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