Local News

Raleigh Streets Getting Trashy

Posted February 18, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— The Triangle is well-known nationwide as a clean, safe place to live, but trash piling up along some of the area's highways threatens to tarnish that image.

The Department of Transportation says Hurricane Fran, recent cold weather and a lack of follow-up on the Adopt-A-Highway program have all contributed to the problem. But, DOT says it is trying to clean the roads, one piece of trash at a time.

Director of State Beautification Carolyn Farmer Belch says mounting trash is a by-product of a growing population.

The Adopt-A-Highway program uses 200,000 volunteers to keep the state's 14,000 miles of highways clean, but it doesn't always work. DOT contracts with inmate work crews to take up the slack and handle problem areas. Belch says it's not a perfect program.

Belch, who is taking over the Adopt-A-Highway program, says Hurricane Fran and cold weather have put volunteers and DOT work crews behind schedule, but she intends to run a tighter ship by creating specific schedules for volunteers and making them more accountable.

DOT officials say some of the additional trash and debris falls off trucks, but they know a great deal of it comes from people tossing trash out of their car windows. Fast food wrappers and beverage containers make up a large portion of the litter.

If people are caught littering, there is the possibility of a $500 fine, but the law is rarely enforced because a person must be caught in the act. Only 400 people statewide were cited for littering last year.