Major litter removal project removes 44,000 lbs. of trash in Tucson

Cleanup addresses preventable problem along 25 miles of highways

Bags of trash in a truck following the Tucson-area litter cleanup

TUCSON - A major litter cleanup project in the Tucson area has removed 44,000 pounds of trash from Interstates 10 and 19 in the Tucson area as part of the Arizona Department of Transportation’s ongoing efforts to keep highways clean.

The cleanup involved trash of all kinds and sizes. From plastic bottles and paper to shopping carts, tires and carpeting, the four-day effort deployed 45 ADOT maintenance crews from as far as Casa Grande and Nogales.

The cleanup took place along about 25 miles of highways, working along I-10 from Ina to Valencia roads, and along I-19 from I-10 to Valencia Roads.

A cleanup of this size is not routine in the Tucson area, as ADOT traditionally gets extensive assistance from volunteer groups who participate in the Adopt A Highway program, along with state prison inmate crews. However, those crews have been mostly unavailable for about two years due to COVID-19 restrictions in prison complexes. While ADOT maintenance personnel are available to remove litter as part of their duties, their primary responsibility is to safety-related work such as guardrail repair, pavement maintenance and right-of-way fence repairs to keep livestock off roadways.

The litter problem is entirely preventable, and because of that, ADOT is urging drivers to help keep the state’s highways pristine. The trash builds up piece by piece as drivers toss items out of their cars or when drivers don’t secure their loads and debris flies out of trucks. 

This problem is more than about aesthetics. Trash that builds up can clog drainage systems and lead to water pooling on roadways. And large debris that falls onto roadways can be hazardous as drivers serve to avoid the items.

ADOT does provide a way for the public to report litter. Drivers who have witnessed trash flying out of vehicles can quickly share key details at Litter.AZ.gov, where an automated chat feature makes it easy to report a license plate number, location, time and type of litter. Also, the public can call ADOT’s Litter Hotline at 877.3LITTER (877.354.8837). The reports are for public awareness and not law enforcement, and ADOT issues more than 1,000 letters a year through the program. 


For more information about the ADOT Adopt a Highway program, please visit azdot.gov.