Local News

Wasting Our Roads Can Be Costly

Posted December 21, 1998 6:00 a.m. EST

— It's ugly and dirty and it's making some highways look like garbage dumps. Trash is building up on some of the areas most heavily traveled roads.

Cruising North Carolina's roads, you might find Styrofoam cups, napkins, cardboard. In other words, trash.

Department of Transportationofficials say keeping the roads clean is one of their biggest jobs.

Officials say many times litterbugs are unsuspecting participants because a lot of trash is blowing off trucks.

But there are also a lot of knowing participants who look at the highway as a waste bin.

Chances are they'll never get caught.

"If I'm behind a violator, someone who is planning to litter, and I happen to be behind them in a marked patrol vehicle, they're not going to litter in my presence," Maj. Charlie Carden of the DOT explains.

DOT does have programs in place for inmates to tidy up. The state also has one of the largest Adopt-a-Highway programs in place, accounting for 12,000 miles in the state.

But with more than 78,000 miles to look after, they have a long road ahead.

"It's a responsibility each of us has, to partner with other folks in our state, whether it be Department of Transportation or law enforcement or just the person you're driving next to," Carden says.

DOT officials say there will be more people keeping an eye on litterbugs soon.

"It looks dirty," says Helen Landi, director of the DOT beautification program. "When we've had people come in to look at North Carolina, they say that it just doesn't look maintained. The department is going to have to have more money to pick up."

Beginning next year, the DOT will partner with local law enforcement people to try to step up the fining process. The first offense can result in a $500 fine, and the penalties climb to $1,000 from there.