Editorial: Litter, litter, everywhere

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Column By John Halikowski/Director ADOT

John Halikowski/Director ADOT

Arizona is one of the most beautiful states in the nation. We can stand awestruck at the majesty of the Grand Canyon at sunrise and by dinnertime be in Tucson admiring the Catalina Mountains. 

But whether your time on the road is spent looking for great scenery or it’s simply to get from Point A to Point B, there is one thing that will mar the experience for everyone: litter. 

Litter, unfortunately, is everywhere. 

At the Arizona Department of Transportation, we spend a lot of time cleaning up litter. Our hard-working maintenance crews take as much time as they can to remove trash and debris from roads and ADOT right of way. These men and women don’t just work for ADOT, they live in and around the communities they serve and they are as upset about litter as anyone. 

But they can’t tackle the litter problem on their own. The first priority for these crews is your safety. That means they’re busy repairing pavement, rebuilding guardrails, and other safety-related tasks. Picking up trash is just one of their responsibilities.

Fortunately, we have help. In many areas of the state, we have a partnership with the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation, and Reentry where inmate crews remove litter. We look forward to the return of those crews once the public health situation allows.

You can help by becoming an Adopt a Highway volunteer. 

Visiting azdot.gov/adoptahighway connects you with information on volunteering as well as an interactive map showing highway segments available for adoption. 

Adopt a Highway cleanups continue during the current public health situation, though ADOT asks volunteers to observe state and federal health guidelines.

Of course, the very best way to make sure our roadways are litter-free is to be a part of the solution. Most roadside trash is items such as empty water bottles, fast food wrappers, and, unfortunately, face masks. All of these things can easily be kept in a vehicle until you get to a trash receptacle. And if you’re hauling something on a trailer or in a truck bed, be sure it’s secure so nothing flies out. That’s not only littering, but it can be a serious safety concern. 

If you see someone littering, ADOT has a way to let a motorist know what they’re doing is illegal and bad for the environment: the ADOT Litter Hotline at litter.az.gov.  When you report someone, we send a letter to the car’s registered owner reminding them of the negative impact of the litter, and its cost to taxpayers. Littering can result in a $500 fine if the offender is spotted by law enforcement. 

Litter is ugly, unhealthy and unsafe. It’s also preventable. Please do your part to keep Arizona grand. 

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