"When you have the tourists, all the construction vehicles, all the materials...we have all types of littering occurring," said Department of Transportation representative George Kapetanakis.
Kapetanakis is in charge of keeping the highways clean. He said the DOT is having a harder time picking up the trash this year because of budget constraints resulting from fuel shortages after Hurricane Katrina.
"Once you let something go for too long, it's hard to catch up with it," he said.
One of the reasons that trash tends to build up on the highway is that the littering laws in North Carolina are difficult to enforce. A Highway Patrol officer has to see someone in the act in order to write them a ticket.
Highway Patrol Trooper J. Maynor has seen plenty of garbage, but usually long after it hits the ground.
"We see everything from tire treads to stoves on I-40, all kinds of things," said Maynor.
Some of the trash falls off trucks, but most of it is tossed out the window. And for the people who have to clean it up -- budget cuts or no budget cuts -- the message is clear.
"I'm sure they're not putting litter in their living rooms, so why is it ok to do it in the streets?" said Kapetanakis. "Someone needs to step up to the plate and say, 'Stop the littering.'"
The DOT said that another reason for the trash buildup has been the weather. During the spring, they pick up millions of more pounds of trash than they do in the winter.
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