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Despite Increased Clean-Up Efforts, Tons of Trash Litter N.C. Roads

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RALEIGH — Last month, Wake County set a record for trash. Crews picked up 160 tons of roadside refuse. This month, theDepartment of Transportationexpects the litter total to top 200 tons.

"It's just unforgivable the way this stuff keeps mounting up out there, and the battle we have to put on to try to keep up with it," says DOT engineer Jerry Linder.

The battle is cleaning up trash, and the DOT is losing.

"Oh yes, it's very frustrating," says Linder. "We'll clean up an area of [Interstate] 40 or something like that. A week later, it looks as bad as it did before."

Picking up trash used to be a side job. Now, several crews, inmates and DOT workers devote all of their time to picking up litter.

In 1999, Wake County set a record for roadside trash. Crews picked up 1,000 tons. So far this year, the total is 958 tons. It looks like 2000 will be another record year for litter.

"Somebody pulled up, rolled down their window, and threw a trash bag on the side of the road," says Linder. "They said 'Here, there's something for ya,' and then turn around and pull off."

North Carolina litterbugs now face $250 fines and mandatory community service -- but they have to be caught in the act.

Last yearN.C. Highway Patroltroopers issued only 372 litter citations statewide. With record amounts of trash, and record amounts spent on cleanup, everyone should think twice before they throw it out the window.

You can helpSwat-a-Litterbugby calling*HPon your cell phone or fill outonline form.

Drivers who are reported as litterbugs receive a warning letter from the state and a litter bag.

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Mark Roberts, Reporter
Keith Baker, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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