COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA)- The South Carolina Department of Transportation had hundreds of employees scattered across the state cleaning up roads and highways Monday as part of the department’s annual clean-up.
With orange bags in tow, the employees scaled the medians and shoulders of main intersections looking for trash. Locations based on traffic volume.
“We travel a lot of our roads so we generally know which roads have more debris and higher traffic,” explained Robert Hall, an assistant resident engineer with Richland County’s maintenance sector of SCDOT.
Employees were stationed in all 46 counties. SCDOT does the cleanup twice a year; in the fall and in the spring.
Hall continued, “What we’re trying to do is pickup the litter for commerce and tourism and the overall image for people passing through our state.”
The cleanup also helps in other ways.
20 years ago SC lawmakers created Palmetto Pride. It’s a non-profit organization aimed at education, enforcement, awareness, and pickup
Palmetto Pride is also one of few organizations focused on litter in the state.
There’s also no state agency that does litter pickup. Local municipalities usually take the responsibility for taking care of public spaces, roads, and sidewalks in those towns and cities. So clean-ups by organizations like Palmetto Pride and agencies like SCDOT are extremely important.
The executive director, Sarah Lyles, outlined several ways litter has an impact on the state.
“It damages the environment it gets into our storm drains and flows down stream and gets into our water system. It’s also dangerous for drivers and pedestrians on the roadway. It effects economic development, real estate, property values. When you have areas where glass is broken and there’s trash and there are overgrown lots, it makes people feel less safe in their neighborhoods.”
Hall echoed Lyles’ concerns. “All of our storm drainage goes to our waterways. All the trash that goes into our storm drains go into our lakes.”
Litter ranges from small items like cigarette butts and food wrappers to larger illegal dumping items like household appliances.
If you’re caught littering you could face fines between $100 and $1000.