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Roadside trash cleanup efforts resume

Highway division 2 with the N.C. Department of Transportation is reporting an increase in the collection of roadside trash in Beaufort County. 

“As of Friday, 1,995 pounds of roadside litter have been collected this year in Beaufort County,” said Vann Sparrow, Division Landscape engineer over Beaufort County. 

This comes after cleanup efforts were halted in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Beginning in late December of 2020, the D.O.T. experienced a rise in complaints regarding the amount of roadside trash seen along major roadways in Beaufort County such as U.S. Highway 264. 

“The number of complaints has plateaued. We are still getting complaints but we’re actively picking up trash also so that’s mitigating it,” Sparrow said. “Currently, our litter contractors are picking up litter ahead of contract mowing. They got to U.S. Highway 264 this week and they’re required to pick the litter up before they mow.”

Statewide, the D.O.T. is reporting record numbers of collection. 1.4 million pounds of litter and debris were collected during the biannual Litter Sweep program that occurred from April 10-24. The year-to-date total of roadside trash collected has surpassed 5 million pounds according to a release from the D.O.T. Thursday. 

In addition to these contract efforts happening through the D.O.T., volunteer cleanups involved in the Adopt-A-Highway and Sponsor-A-Highway programs have increased.

“We have seen an increase not only in folks wanting to join the adopt a highway program but also in folks just calling and asking how they can help individually without assembling a group and becoming an adopt a highway organization. We point them in a direction that needs help and we’ll supply them with all materials and will collect whatever they collect once they’re done. We’ll take help in any way we can get it.”

The D.O.T. encourages everyone to take certain steps to prevent an increase in roadside trash.  Make sure to secure all loads before driving to ensure debris is not blowing out of your vehicle, hold on to all trash until it can be disposed of properly and recycle whenever possible to limit the amount of trash going in our landfills.  

“Hopefully what we’re doing is going to make a huge dent in the amount of roadside trash we’re seeing,” Sparrow said.