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Trash Littering California Highways Cost Taxpayers Millions

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Stockton, CA — Caltrans crews will be covering eight counties including the Mother Lode picking up garbage along area highways to remind drivers not to pitch their trash out the window.

Thursday is Caltrans’ annual statewide Litter Removal and Enforcement Day. It is Caltrans way of  highlighting Earth Day, which is Friday.  Travelers will spot crews clearing liter and debris from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on highways in Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, Mariposa, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Tuolumne counties. The goal is to draw attention to the large volume and cost that comes with picking up trash tossed on the side of roadways. Caltrans spokesperson Angela DaPrato notes that a 2015 study found it cost taxpayers $270 million over five years to pick up what equal around 80,000 Caltrans dump trucks full of garbage. She suggests, “That is a lot of trash and money we’re spending. The best anti-litter campaign is to ensure trash never makes it onto our highways in the first place.”

DaPrato cautions that more than just economic cost are the serious threats to the environment and human health, which includes plastics in the ecosystem; roadside vegetation damaged by large debris; fires started from burning cigarettes; harmful chemicals that can get into the drainage systems and flooding that can lead to the spread of disease.

Caltrans ask motorists to slow down in cone zones where crews are picking up litter and provides this list of areas:

Tuolumne County:

  • Highway 108 just past Draper Mine Road to East Avenue
  • Highway 120 from the Tuolumne/Stanislaus county line to Green Springs Road

Calaveras County:

  • Calaveras/Stanislaus county line on Highway 4 to Copperopolis
  • Highway 4 from Lakemont Drive to Moran Road
  • Highway 26 Calaveras/Stanislaus county line to Nove Road