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Wed, May 27

Letter: ADOT hates littering, too, here's how you can help stop it

I thank Cindy Guthrie for her April 14 letter about litter along I-40.

We at ADOT share her disdain for litter and also for people’s careless behavior that leads to trash along highways and elsewhere. But I also must point out the choices ADOT faces when it comes to roadside litter and the limited funding available for our agency’s many responsibilities, which must begin with providing a safe and reliable transportation system.

The same pool of funding that pays for guardrail and pothole repairs also pays for litter removal. Each is expensive, but the ones involving safety must have priority.

To address the root problem behind roadside litter, ADOT educates through Litter.az.gov about laws and the harmful effects of littering. We welcome reports of littering through this portal. When you report someone, we send a letter to the vehicle’s owner letting him or her know that someone saw what appeared to be litter being thrown from it. We remind the owner about the harm from litter, including what it costs taxpayers to clean litter from highways. We even include a litter bag for the vehicle.

Engaged citizens across Arizona have stepped up to take on the litter fight. Last year, more than 9,000 volunteers participated in the Adopt a Highway Volunteer program, filling 15,852 bags of trash across 1,982 miles of highways. Volunteer efforts saved the state of Arizona $586,720 last year, while through a sponsor program businesses pay to keep freeway segments clean. When ADOT maintenance crews have time and other critical work is complete, they will pick up litter as well.

This is not to discount the frustration everyone experiences when they see roadside litter. But I do want to make sure the writer and your readers know that ADOT’s first priority with the dollars Arizonans allocate for transportation must always be getting everyone safely home.

John Halikowski

Director,

Arizona Department of Transportation

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