litter

Arizonans took to state highways for National Cleanup Day

Arizonans took to state highways for National Cleanup Day

I-17 101 traffic interchange

Arizonans took to state highways for National Cleanup Day

Arizonans took to state highways for National Cleanup Day

September 20, 2023

Effort organized by ADOT Adopt a Highway removed 214 bags of litter

PHOENIX – Arizonans did their part on the recent National Cleanup Day by picking up 214 bags of litter along state highways through the Arizona Department of Transportation’s Adopt a Highway volunteer program. 

Fifteen groups with 123 volunteers answered the call to participate in this special event on Saturday, Sept.16. Some of those groups have adopted highway miles through Adopt a Highway, while others joined in for the day. 

One of those groups was the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, which had seven volunteers fill 13 bags with litter along Oracle Road (State Route 77) on the north side of Oro Valley. 

“It feels good just cleaning up native habitat along the highway and making sure that all the native vegetation has space to grow and that people have a nice place to bike,” said Jonni Zeman, the group’s program and communications coordinator. “It’s great to just be here making a difference, even if it’s small.”

ADOT’s Tucson North Motor Vehicle Division office had 12 team members pick up 16 bags of litter along Oracle Road between Ina and Orange Grove roads, while two other team members delivered drinks and collected bags. The office has adopted this segment and will hold cleanups throughout the year.

“It’s just a way for us to connect to the community and be part of it,” said Jessica Robeson, an MVD customer service representative. 

Other state highways where volunteers participated in National Cleanup Day were Interstate 19, State Route 260 and US 60. 

This event complements the work of more than 6,000 Adopt a Highway volunteers who help keep state highways looking grand throughout the year. In 2022 alone, these volunteers filled more than 12,500 bags of litter while contributing time and effort worth more than $600,000. 

And there’s room for plenty more. Civic-minded individuals, families, religious groups and others may receive two-year permits to clean up roadside litter on highway segments, largely in rural areas, that are deemed safe for volunteers. You’ll see their names on signs identifying their adopted miles. 

For more information and to join our Adopt a Highway family, please visit azdot.gov/AdoptAHighway.

 

Adopt a Highway: Save the date Sept. 16 is National CleanUp Day

Adopt a Highway: Save the date Sept. 16 is National CleanUp Day

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Adopt a Highway: Save the date Sept. 16 is National CleanUp Day

Adopt a Highway: Save the date Sept. 16 is National CleanUp Day

By Mary Currie / ADOT Communications
August 2, 2023
A woman removes litter from a highway shoulder in a rural, desert area with mountains in the distant background.

Welcome one and all! Whether you are an existing Adopt a Highway volunteer group or want to pitch-in for one day. This year National CleanUp Day is Saturday, Sept. 16—only seven weeks away. The day is set aside for civic-minded individuals and organizations to unite for the purpose of reducing litter in their communities along state highways.

Now is the time to gather volunteers and plan your cleanup. A registration notification and link will be sent in the coming weeks for new and existing volunteer groups to register with ADOT. 

We ask all groups to report litter bag collection totals within three days of the event. The data is then used to measure and track the amount of litter removed from Arizona’s highways. In 2022, more than 215 Adopt a Highway volunteers collected 2.3 tons of litter in one day. The second largest haul of litter in our five-year history of National CleanUp Day participation.

The Adopt a Highway team plans to visit as many volunteer groups as logistics allow. If your clean up is along our route, we will contact you before Sept. 16 to coordinate details. 

Thank you for considering National CleanUp Day as an opportunity to volunteer and help reduce litter along state highways. 

Arizona, Keep It Grand!

Hey ADOT Kids! Don’t be litter bugs!

Hey ADOT Kids! Don’t be litter bugs!

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Hey ADOT Kids! Don’t be litter bugs!

Hey ADOT Kids! Don’t be litter bugs!

By Audrey St. Clair / ADOT Communications
June 20, 2023
Litter Bug mean

People litter when they throw their garbage somewhere instead of putting it in a trash can. Sometimes people litter when they don’t care about the place where they’re throwing their trash, or when they think someone else will come and clean up after them. 

Not only is litter unsightly to see on the ground, along our highways or in waterways, but this type of pollution hurts people and the planet in multiple ways. 

Litter costs money to clean up, it can hurt humans and wildlife, and it also harms the environment as the chemicals in plastic break down and enter the soil or the water. Litter can wind up in storm drains that could then cause flooding on the roads.

Litter is a problem that can be controlled and YOU CAN HELP make a difference! 

How can you help? Never let trash escape from your car. Keep it contained in a bag inside of your vehicle. Find a proper trash container to throw it in, or recycle it if you can. (Did you know that most of the aluminum cans in the United States are made with recycled aluminum?)

Don’t throw apple cores, banana peels or other food parts out the window. Not only is it ugly, but animals can be attracted to the scent and can cause a crash if they cross the road.

Help us by doing  your part to keep Arizona Grand!

Download and print a fun scrambled word sheet to find types of litter found on Arizona roads. Visit the ADOT Kids website at azdot.gov/ADOTKids for activities and videos about freeways … and more!

 

More than 800 tons of trash in Maricopa County cleaned up by ADOT in 2021

More than 800 tons of trash in Maricopa County cleaned up by ADOT in 2021

I-17 101 traffic interchange

More than 800 tons of trash in Maricopa County cleaned up by ADOT in 2021

More than 800 tons of trash in Maricopa County cleaned up by ADOT in 2021

January 19, 2023

PHOENIX – Last year, the Arizona Department of Transportation along with its maintenance contractors picked up 118,578 bags of trash along freeways in Maricopa County, which translates to approximately 811 tons. This continues an upward trend in the amount of litter accumulation along Valley freeways since 2017.

During the past five years, litter has steadily increased along state freeways in Maricopa County. In 2017, ADOT picked up 80,442 bags of litter compared to the nearly 119,000 bags last year. That’s a 47% increase.

ADOT maintenance crews are able to clean about 250 miles along the freeway system once a week thanks to funding from the Maricopa Association of Governments. Nevertheless, the amount of litter and trash increases along Valley freeways year after year. 

“Drivers can help out by simply not littering,” said Mary Currie, who manages ADOT’s Adopt a Highway programs. “Don’t toss that burger wrapper, paper cup or cigarette butt out of the window. All of those seemingly small and insignificant items build up over time creating safety issues.”

Some of those safety issues include blockages of stormwater drainage grates, sometimes preventing water from flowing freely to retention basins, drainage channels or pump stations. That can cause standing water to build in low lying locations along freeways. Over time, litter also can negatively impact the operation of pumps that remove storm runoff along some Phoenix-area freeways. 

It’s also important to secure your load before traveling. ADOT’s Incident Response Unit sponsored by State Farm, whose job is to patrol Valley freeways to provide vital services including removing litter and debris blocking the road, responds to an average of 26 calls per week for debris blocking the highway. In fact, one-third of all the calls the IRU receives are for litter blocking the road.

In addition to ADOT maintenance crews cleaning the freeways, ADOT also provides a way to report litter. Litter.AZ.gov allows witnesses to quickly share what they’ve seen through an automated chat feature. The site asks for just a few details, including license plate number, location, time and type of litter. The mission of ADOT’s Litter Hotline, which also is available by calling the toll-free phone number 877.3LITTER (877.354.8837), is public awareness rather than law enforcement. More than 1,000 letters are issued through this program each year.

The Maricopa Association of Governments focuses on keeping roadways clean through its Don't Trash Arizona campaign. Those who litter along Arizona highways can face fines up to $500.

“By not littering and securing your loads, we can all help Keep Arizona Grand,” Currie said.

ADOT crews cleared more than 800 tons of litter in Maricopa County in 2021

ADOT crews cleared more than 800 tons of litter in Maricopa County in 2021

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ADOT crews cleared more than 800 tons of litter in Maricopa County in 2021

ADOT crews cleared more than 800 tons of litter in Maricopa County in 2021

By Ryan Harding / ADOT Communications
March 16, 2022

Can you imagine 800 tons of anything? Eight-hundred tons of African elephants would be about 114 of the massive mammals.

Eight-hundred tons is also how much litter and trash ADOT maintenance crews collected in 2021 along Maricopa County freeways. That’s a lot of litter and also a 47% increase in the amount of litter picked up in 2017.

Each week, ADOT maintenance crews are able to clean about 250 miles along the freeway system, thanks to funding from the Maricopa Association of Governments. Nevertheless, the amount of litter and trash increases along Valley freeways year after year. 

ADOT’s Incident Response Unit, sponsored by State Farm, responds to an average of 26 calls per week for debris blocking the highway. In fact, one-third of all the calls the IRU receives are for litter and debris obstructing highway travel lanes.

Recently in Tucson, ADOT maintenance crews from Casa Grande to Nogales banded together to pick up 44,000 pounds of trash along 25 miles of highways, working along I-10 from Ina to Valencia roads, and along I-19 from I-10 to Valencia Roads. 

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. 

But here’s the thing: this problem is entirely preventable by keeping litter in your vehicle until you get to your destination and securing your load. Tossing burger wrappers, paper cups and cigarette butts out of the window, while all seemingly small and insignificant items, build up over time and create safety issues.  

Trash build-up can also clog drainage systems and lead to water pooling on roadways. And large debris that falls onto roadways can be hazardous as drivers swerve to avoid the items.

So, let’s leave the items that can be measured in tons to large land animals. By securing your loads and keeping trash in your vehicle until you can throw it away at a stop or destination, you can help make a huge dent in the amount of trash collecting alongside our highways, clogging drainage systems and marring landscapes. 

To find out more about ADOT’s Adopt a Highway program and litter, visit azdot.gov/adoptahighway

Major litter removal project underway in Tucson

Major litter removal project underway in Tucson

I-17 101 traffic interchange

Major litter removal project underway in Tucson

Major litter removal project underway in Tucson

February 1, 2022

 

TUCSON - As part of ongoing efforts to keep highways clean, the Arizona Department of Transportation is devoting significant resources this week into removing litter from Interstates 10 and 19 in the Tucson area.

ADOT is deploying 45 staff members for the major cleanup along about 25 miles of highways, working along I-10 from Ina to Valencia roads, and along I-19 from I-10 to Valencia Road. Work began Tuesday, with crews expected to work 10 hours a day through Friday to complete the effort. While many of the ADOT personnel involved are based in Tucson, other crews are traveling from as far as Casa Grande and Nogales.

The litter problem is entirely an issue of driver behavior. Whether it’s individuals who throw trash out a car window or commercial vehicles that don’t cover their loads, the litter problem is preventable. While ADOT employees who live and work in the Tucson area are cleaning up the trash, it’s local residents and drivers who ultimately can help ADOT improve the appearance of highways by being more respectful of the environment.

ADOT maintenance personnel normally are available to perform cleanup duties as part of their duties, but their primary responsibility is to safety-related work such as guardrail repair, pavement maintenance, right-of-way fence repairs to keep livestock off roadways and other similar work.

ADOT is assisted in cleanups by volunteer groups who participate in the Adopt A Highway program, along with state prison inmate crews. Those crews have been mostly unavailable for nearly two years due to COVID-19 restrictions in prison complexes. 

Drivers can report roadside trash violations at litter.az.gov

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

ADOT’s Incident Response Unit picking up Phoenix-area litter and dangerous road debris much faster

ADOT’s Incident Response Unit picking up Phoenix-area litter and dangerous road debris much faster

I-17 101 traffic interchange

ADOT’s Incident Response Unit picking up Phoenix-area litter and dangerous road debris much faster

ADOT’s Incident Response Unit picking up Phoenix-area litter and dangerous road debris much faster

November 1, 2021

PHOENIX –  In the past two years since the Arizona Department of Transportation started the Incident Response Unit sponsored by State Farm, pickup of litter and dangerous roadway debris has been far faster and more efficient than before. 

The Incident Response Unit, whose job is to patrol Valley freeways to provide vital services including removing litter and debris blocking the road, is working even more efficiently with its own tracking system for calls and time management . The system has provided a clearer picture for the unit to see where improvements can be made in responding to roadway incidents in the Valley.

“Litter is an ugly problem anywhere and objects in the roadway can cause serious and even fatal incidents,” said David Blue, ADOT’s Incident Response Unit manager. “Our job is to respond as rapidly as possible to get the driving surface clear and make sure conditions are safe for everyone.”  

One improvement that has paid dividends was a shift in schedules to have a rotating member of the unit on patrol duty on the weekend to address the dozens of litter calls coming in. The Incident Response Unit sponsored by State Farm normally operates from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday with on-call services nights and weekends. This change keeps drivers safer by removing blocking litter more quickly and freeing up State Troopers to address other incidents on the freeways.

In fact, one-third of the 1600 calls that have come in since mid-August have been for litter blocking the road. The types of litter the IRU responds to range from ladders and load spills to couches and even air conditioning units.

“Having someone on weekend duty helps us achieve our mission of keeping traffic flowing and reducing the chance for crashes,” Blue added. “We’re always looking to improve our processes to better serve motorists in the Valley.”

In addition to litter removal, the IRU provides traffic control at crash scenes and aids stranded motorists. Having a dedicated mobile team has cut response times for incidents to a matter of minutes. Before the IRU, maintenance crews would have to stop their work, return to a yard to pick up vehicles and equipment and then respond to the crash scene.

Learn more about ADOT’s Incident Response Unit sponsored by State Farm at azdot.gov/IRU

Adopt a Highway: Volunteers collect tons of trash from Arizona highways

Adopt a Highway: Volunteers collect tons of trash from Arizona highways

I-17 101 traffic interchange

Adopt a Highway: Volunteers collect tons of trash from Arizona highways

Adopt a Highway: Volunteers collect tons of trash from Arizona highways

September 23, 2021

Arizona Department of Transportation volunteers answered the call to participate on National CleanUp Day, Sept. 18, by removing more than 150 bags, or 2,053 pounds of trash from alongside Arizona’s highways. 

Forty groups from all corners of the state: Page, Yuma, Concho, Vernon, Show Low, Prescott, Chino Valley, Congress, Kingman, Lake Havasu City, Tucson, Bouse, Claypool, Sahuarita and Bullhead City, registered with ADOT for the event on the Adopt a Highway website. 

Adopt a Highway Program Manager Mary Currie said, “It’s a win for communities and the state of Arizona. One-day permits offer volunteers a way to explore one type of volunteer work among many, and to be a part of the litter solution. They get first hand experience on the process for adopting and how to conduct a litter cleanup safely. Our experience has been that some of these groups decide to complete the adoption for two-years and become regular caregivers of their segment”. 

More than half of the groups registering for the cleanup were new volunteers interested in participating for one day rather than a two-year adoption.

Every day Adopt a Highway program volunteers are giving back to Arizona somewhere in the state. ADOT strives to make it safe and as easy as possible for them to continue volunteering.  

These individual volunteers made a positive impact for drivers on the state highway system by removing all types of litter, including: cigarette butts, plastic bags and bottles, aluminum cans, and other unsightly trash. Car bumpers and refrigerator doors were also found along the way. A very dangerous type of trash for travelers.

Michele Michelson and her group of eight volunteers opted for a one-day permit to help clean up SR 89A in Prescott Valley. “We are all very proud to be here in this beautiful sunshine to keep the county, the town and our state clean. I saw ADOT’s post on facebook and registered. Here we are and we’ll do it again. Who doesn’t want to keep their community clean. Thank you ADOT for offering this opportunity.”

In return for a two-year permit and a sign recognizing their group’s segment, Adopt a Highway volunteers agree to:

Adopt a minimum of two miles of state highway

Always wear Federal Highway Administration required ANSI Class II Safety vests

Read a safety brief and watch a safety video before each cleanup

Contact ADOT before cleaning up their sections

File an activity report after each cleanup, telling ADOT how many bags of litter was collected

Clean their sections at least once and preferably three or more times per year

Motorists can support Adopt a Highway volunteers by slowing down where people are picking up litter and always driving with extra caution and care. 

To learn more about ADOT’s Adopt a Highway volunteer program, please visit azdot.gov/adoptahighway.

Litter push removes 11,000 pounds of roadside garbage in Tucson region

Litter push removes 11,000 pounds of roadside garbage in Tucson region

I-17 101 traffic interchange

Litter push removes 11,000 pounds of roadside garbage in Tucson region

Litter push removes 11,000 pounds of roadside garbage in Tucson region

August 25, 2021

TUCSON - In an unprecedented push to remove roadside garbage and debris, 42 Arizona Department of Transportation employees from southern Arizona were recently able to pick up 11,000 pounds of trash and bulk items.

ADOT personnel from Casa Grande, Coolidge, Nogales, Oracle, Three Points, Tucson, and St. David cleaned up a stretch of Interstate 10 from Rita Rd. to Kino Blvd.; a distance of about 11 miles. This portion of the highway is a hot spot for roadside garbage and debris and the cleanup required approximately half of the available ADOT South Central District maintenance staff. 

“We did this because of an overwhelming amount of roadside garbage and debris on ADOT right-of-way,” said Highway Operations Supervisor Fernando Murrietta. “The problem isn’t just how much litter there is, but how it gets there. People throw trash from their vehicle and it’s ADOT crews who live and work in southern Arizona who pick it up. We are part of the solution because we’re cleaning up other peoples’ messes.  Things would be much better if people would be more respectful of the environment.”

Maintenance personnel are available to perform cleanup duties as part of their ongoing work, but their primary responsibility is safety-related work such as guardrail repair, pavement maintenance, right-of-way fence repair to keep livestock off roadways and other similar jobs. 

In addition to ADOT employees, trash cleanups are conducted by volunteer groups as well as state prison inmate crews. Inmate crews have not been available due to COVID-19 restrictions in prison complexes, but are now beginning to return to roadside duties. 

To report roadside trash violations: litter.az.gov

For more information about the ADOT Adopt a Highway program: azdot.gov

 

Adopt a Highway: Celebrating National Volunteer Week April 18 - 24

Adopt a Highway: Celebrating National Volunteer Week April 18 - 24

I-17 101 traffic interchange

Adopt a Highway: Celebrating National Volunteer Week April 18 - 24

Adopt a Highway: Celebrating National Volunteer Week April 18 - 24

April 19, 2021

Last year Adopt a Highway volunteers removed nearly four tons of litter from along state highways, contributing to the overall 1.6 million volunteers who together devoted 160.9 million hours of service in Arizona. 

Why is it a big deal? Because highway maintenance dollars saved, to the tune of $235,000, means that taxpayer funds can be used for other Arizona Department of Transportation priorities. More important is the determination of volunteers to Keep It Grand by making Arizona’s highways more appealing for all.

That makes those who commit time and effort to ADOT’s Adopt a Highway program worthy of a big thank you from all Arizonans during National Volunteer Week, which runs through April 24.  

During 2020, 4,700 people from more than 1,200 volunteer groups packed up their vehicles, put on safety vests and headed out to pick up litter along their adopted sections of the highway system.

“Adopt a Highway works because of a small army of dedicated volunteers, permit technicians and ADOT maintenance employees statewide who support them,” said Mary Currie, Adopt a Highway program manager. “All Arizonans and welcomed travelers benefit from the many hours put in by volunteers who beautify the highways that for many form a first impression of the Grand Canyon State.”

Looking to make a difference during National Volunteer Week and beyond? Visiting azdot.gov/adoptahighway connects you with information on volunteering as well as an interactive map showing highway segments available for adoption. 

In return for a two-year permit and a sign recognizing their group’s segment, Adopt a Highway volunteers agree to:

Adopt a minimum of two miles

Always wear Federal Highway Administration required ANSI Class II Safety vests

Read a safety brief and watch a safety video before each cleanup

Contact ADOT before cleaning up their sections

Report to ADOT how many bags of litter were cleaned up

Clean their sections at least once and preferably three times per year

Adopt a Highway cleanups continue during the current public health situation, though ADOT asks volunteers to observe state and federal guidelines calling for social distancing and keeping groups fewer than 10 people.

Motorists can support Adopt a Highway volunteers by slowing down when driving by people picking up litter and always driving with extra caution and care.

To learn more about ADOT’s Adopt a Highway volunteer program opportunities, please visit azdot.gov/adoptahighway.