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Highway cleanup put aside in tight budget times

Posted September 30, 2009

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— State budget cuts are also taking a toll on North Carolina highways in visible ways.

State road maintenance engineer Jennifer Brandenburg says budget cuts are forcing the Department of Transportation to reprioritize highway cleanup and landscaping projects.

Highway cleanup put aside in tight budget times Highway cleanup put aside in tight budget times

"We just don't have the staff to be able to pick up litter as much as we have in the past," she said.

Safety repairs, such as fixing guardrails and potholes, are a higher priority, she said.

That means drivers will likely see more trash and taller grass when they are out on the road.

"We want North Carolina to look good for our own motorists, as well as our visitors, but when we have these kind of (economic) conditions, we just aren't able to do that," Brandenburg said.

The DOT also relies on inmates to help keep highways clean, but the state recently cut the Department of Correction budget for litter pickup by 20 percent.

That makes volunteers who help pick up trash are even more crucial, Brandenburg said.

Right now, the state is in its second week of the annual fall litter sweep, when Adopt-a-Highway teams are encouraged to pitch in.

"It makes you want to go out there and pick it up yourself, but it's just so much," motorist Beverly McKinnie said.


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  • cary1969 Oct 1, 2009

    you see people throwing trash out of cars most everyday. not to mention the garbage trucks.

  • fudder Sep 30, 2009

    why arent the prisoners still picking up trash???

  • Leonardo Sep 30, 2009

    "how i wish that the NCDOT would just PAY the Girl/Boy Scouts, churches, whoever to clean it up. $200 per mile."

    Hrm...I don't know if I like the idea of having groups of preteens on the sides of highways. Seems somewhat unsafe to me. I guess you could argue that they've got to learn sometime that getting run over by a runaway tractor-trailer is bad. But I guess I'm just overprotective of my kids.

  • Leonardo Sep 30, 2009

    pbjbeach - I wish I knew whether or not that's true. Government is inherently inefficient, but private companies try to fleece as much money from taxpayers as they can. Which is worse? I'd like to see some unbiased independent studies done on it, but unbiased studies are hard to come by.

  • turkeydance Sep 30, 2009

    in 1997, Durham County attempted to "privitize" litter pickup.
    the lowest bid was $406 per mile. concerning using prison labor:
    it's even more expensive. four guards, bus and driver, off site
    food, port-a-john rental, etc. how i wish that the NCDOT would
    just PAY the Girl/Boy Scouts, churches, whoever to clean it up.
    $200 per mile. the State would save money, and have thousands
    of organizations standing in line to clean up the trash.

  • pbjbeach Sep 30, 2009

    If the state department of transportation would quit outsourcing everything to private contractors in the first place an paying these contractors hughes contracts for this kinds of work an revert back to using their own personnel that are already on their payrolls the trash collections an the potholes an the guradrail fixes could be accomplished at a whole lot cheaper rate than contracting these services out to start with.As the grass mowing an the height of the grass before mowing takes place it has for a long time now appered to me that the grass is reaching the height of nearly should high on the average height grown adult prior to mowing actually taking place on a lot of highways down east even on the wonderful us-64 leading to the northern beaches an on us158 heading to elizibeth through the dismissal swamp areas on the shoulders front slope an back slopes an across the entire ncdot state r/w. it was done a whole lot better an more effeciently when the state maintenance department

  • melhanpow Sep 30, 2009

    Inmates no longer pick up trash? I forgot they have rights too.

  • Leonardo Sep 30, 2009

    The tall grass hides the trash anyway.