Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Litter bugs beware! KDOT crews exterminate trash along highways


It’s amazing what some people will throw away, especially out of vehicle windows while driving more than 65 miles an hour along Kansas highways.



KDOT crews across the state actually take the time to clean up the messes that litter bugs leave behind. KDOT addresses these messy situations to improve safety for the traveling public.

On average KDOT crews can pick up 2-4 tons worth of trash each week. An article posted on KDOT’s Northeast Kansas Facebook page explains that in the KC Metro area, crews pick up litter by hand as time allows.


Many of these tasks, especially litter pick up, are never ending,” the article said. “Effort may be made one day to pick up litter and the next day it may look as if it was never addressed. KDOT does not take our responsibilities lightly in providing a safe and efficient transportation system.

KDOT crews also still have to ensure that hazardous spills are cleaned up and it can require several agencies.

Wayne Nelson, Superintendent at the Pittsburg Area Office, said that last year a hospital waste disposal truck’s door fell open and about 20 big bags of medical waste were scattered along a five-mile area. KDOT, KDHE, Emergency Management, The Kansas Highway Patrol, the local sheriff and other agencies were all on the scene to clean up the mess.

“As Area Superintendent of Area Four, I refused to allow any agency on the list to leave the trash on our right of way for even one night,” Nelson said.  “There was a trailer court and residences all around the area, any dog could have taken the trash to a yard where kids were playing.”

Nelson said that on any given day, staff may find some dangerous items left along the state right-of-way.


“Drug dealers leave their hazardous waste for KDOT people to address, because if (these items) are found in a dumpster they may identify who is doing the dumping. Dangerous items requiring removal from state right of way may include needles, chemicals, fire hazards, and explosives."

Some areas in the state report that more drug paraphernalia is dumped on the side of the road after a drug lane check.

Hazardous waste aside, some KDOT crews find the strangest things along roadways. Unusual finds include money, laptops, cell phones, truck tires, guns, IDs, tools, knives and even entire motorcycles abandoned by their owners.



While KDOT crews do their best to clean up the litter, they cannot do it alone. Some areas in the state need your help to exterminate litter. KDOT’s ADOPT-A-Highway program is a great way to do your part to keep Kansas beautiful and take an active role in keeping your state clean!

Find more information about how you can get involved here!

And remember, litter belongs in a trashcan or recycle bin, not along roadsides. 

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