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DOT Cleans Up State's Image With New Machine

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VASS — TheDepartment of Transportationsays its new litter machine is the fastest, safest way to collect garbage. It can vacuum up mufflers, paper, cans and other trash. This week, the giant garbage sweeper is in Pinehurst cleaning up for theU.S. Open.

The machine is spending the first two weeks of June cruising about 30 miles worth of roadways around Moore County.

"It helps out quite a bit," says machine driver Alex McLaughlin. "There's a lot of sweating and walking you don't have to do with a piece of equipment. It picks up a whole lot better than a man could out there."

The machine is the main reason all roads leading to Pinehurst are cleaner than usual.

At a speed of 18 miles per hour, it helps McLaughlin pick up everything from candy wrappers to truck tires.

After an international search for an automated machine that would pick up trash, the state spent $70,000 to purchase this one. It covers about five miles of road a day.

"It has tines, almost like fingers," saysHighway BeautificationDirector Helen Landi. "They go through and just scoop up the litter."

DOT officials believe the machine will save money over time, since hiring a prison crew costs $5 per inmate per day.

The machine does have one drawback. "It doesn't pick up all the little, teeny pieces," Landi says. But it does get the big ones, the ones DOT officials believe visitors are most likely to notice.

"It's just important that North Carolina look good. It's a beautiful state," Landi says.

The machine heads to Raleigh next, in time for the1999 Special Olympics World Summer Games.

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Len Besthoff, Reporter
Gil Hollingsworth, Photographer
Julie Moos, Web Editor

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