Budget impacts from COVID-19, other issues lessens ability for NCDOT to pick up litter on roads

Driving You Crazy

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The amount of trash littering the Triangle’s roads and highways is outpacing the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s ability to pick it up.

This year through the end of September, crews have picked up over 4.5 million pounds of trash statewide. This time last year, that number was nearly 9 million pounds. Here are litter collection numbers for 2019 and 2020 from the NCDOT:

2019 pounds collected through end of September:
Wake County – 475,005
Division 5 – 1,126,320
Statewide – 8,933,739

2020 pounds collected through end of September:
Wake County – 311,865
Division 5 – 481,515
Statewide – 4,523,010

According to the NCDOT, litter costs millions of dollars to clean up and budget impacts from COVID-19, responding to more frequent and severe weather events, and Map Act settlements are some reasons why they have had to decrease their ability to address litter and mow.

“Crews are mowing just three times this year in many places as opposed to six. Litter is typically picked up right before mowing. These two things go hand-in-hand,” NCDOT’s Marty Homan said.

The NCDOT was also forced to cancel their fall and spring litter sweeps because of the pandemic.

Jenn Smetana emailed CBS 17’s Laura Smith saying she is seeing more trash on major roads.

“I’m hoping you can raise questions to the DOT and government leadership regarding the despicable litter on I-540, I-40, downtown Raleigh, and all major roadways,” Smetana said.

The NCDOT said there are a number of ways the public and businesses can help clean the roads. You can get involved with one of the four programs or buy a “Do Not Litter” specialty license plate. Plates require a $20 annual fee in addition to the regular license payment. A portion of the $20 each plate sold will go to the NCDOT for litter reduction efforts.

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