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Beltline Trash Causes Conflict Between Raleigh, State

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Thousands of drivers pound the Beltline pavement surrounding the city everyday, and city leaders say it's leaving an ugly impression.

"Is it an image issue?" said Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker. "It really is an image issue, more than a safety issue, both to citizens and visitors. The Beltline isn't attractive and we have to try to do a better job."

Almost anything is out there - from cups to cardboard, to key cards and cabbage.

Meeker and the Budget and Economic Development Committee okayed a plan for more public education on littering, and more enforcement of uncovered trucks throwing trash to the wind.

In 2005, the most recent data shows Wake County by far had the most littering charges in the state, with 269. But once it's on the ground next to the Beltline, Meeker said the state is slow to pick it up.

"The state is not doing what it takes to keep the Beltway clean," said Meeker.

It's the latest in a series of gripes Raleigh has with the state. It goes back to 2002 when the state kept $8 million of Raleigh's money to help balance the budget, and also includes million of dollars in canceled road projects the city is now paying for.

"You can't single out any one person or any one entity and say, 'Hey, it's your responsibility,'" said George Kapetanakis with the DOT. "It's everyone's job to get out there - no. 1, stop throwing it out of the vehicle."

Kapetanakis coordinates the state DOT's litter programs. He said North Carolina spends $16 million picking up litter. Between DOT employees and state inmates, Kapetanakis said crews clean up the Beltline 6 to 12 times a year.

For Raleigh leaders, though, that's not good enough. In Tuesday's committee meeting, Meeker asked for a report from the DOT about their Beltline clean up schedule. He said if need be, the city may ask legislators to increase Beltline maintenance.

Wake County has a litter hotline. If you see trash fly from a car or truck on the Beltline, call

(919) 856-5700



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