Local News

Highway cleanup put aside in tight budget times

Posted September 30, 2009 5:41 p.m. EDT
Updated September 30, 2009 7:04 p.m. EDT

— State budget cuts are also taking a toll on North Carolina highways in visible ways.

State road maintenance engineer Jennifer Brandenburg says budget cuts are forcing the Department of Transportation to reprioritize highway cleanup and landscaping projects.

"We just don't have the staff to be able to pick up litter as much as we have in the past," she said.

Safety repairs, such as fixing guardrails and potholes, are a higher priority, she said.

That means drivers will likely see more trash and taller grass when they are out on the road.

"We want North Carolina to look good for our own motorists, as well as our visitors, but when we have these kind of (economic) conditions, we just aren't able to do that," Brandenburg said.

The DOT also relies on inmates to help keep highways clean, but the state recently cut the Department of Correction budget for litter pickup by 20 percent.

That makes volunteers who help pick up trash are even more crucial, Brandenburg said.

Right now, the state is in its second week of the annual fall litter sweep, when Adopt-a-Highway teams are encouraged to pitch in.

"It makes you want to go out there and pick it up yourself, but it's just so much," motorist Beverly McKinnie said.