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Litter becomes costly problem for ALDOT

(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)
Updated: Jul. 6, 2018 at 2:37 PM CDT
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HOUSTON CO., AL (WSFA) - On a trip to the store, commute to work, or just walking your dog, you've likely seen it: trash lining Alabama's roads.

"I'm on the roads a lot in District 2 and there's very few roads that I see that are litter free," said Houston County Commissioner Doug Sinquefield.

According to The Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT), the litter piling up across the state comes at a high cost. ALDOT spent approximately $6.8 million in 2017 on litter cleanup throughout the state. Of that money, $35,012.63 was spent in Houston County and more than half of Henry County to clean roads.

ALDOT says that figure doesn't include costs from their partner agencies like Keep Alabama Beautiful or P.A.L.S. (People Against a Littered State) or county clean-up efforts.

"Our staffers go around and see the trash out there and they pick it up and they come back the next day and it's out there again. So, it's a constant thing," said ALDOT's Brantley Kirk.

Starting in July ALDOT is launching a public relations campaign called "Trash Costs Cash" to remind people about the anti-littering law and the fines you could face if you're caught littering.

Littering is considered a Class C misdemeanor and a first conviction is $250. The second and any subsequent convictions are $500 each.

Sinquefield says he's excited about the extra attention that will be given to keeping our state clean and believes it could positively impact the county's economy.

"I think that does have an effect on us in economic development. If we want to draw companies and corporations here - that's one way we do it by having a clean county."

Sinquefield says the litter problem isn't just potentially stopping economic growth, it's also diverting funds that could be put to better use.

"That's ridiculous we can't put that money back into our infrastructure. We can resurface roads. We can pave dirt roads. There is so much more that we can do with that kind of money."

ALDOT confirmed there is an opportunity cost associated with litter pickup. ALDOT could be using the funds for maintenance and construction of the state transportation system.

Sinquefield says the county is looking into measures to keep county roads clean since they aren't able to use inmates from the Department of Corrections. He says the commission is working with the sheriff's office to look into options.

If you are interested in cleaning up a road, you can contact Sinquefield to get a bag to collect litter. He says you can leave the bag on the road and he will coordinate the trash pick up. He can be contacted at 334.596.4941.

One helpful tip, if you have small trash bags in your car you can use it to collect trash to throw out when you get to your final destination.

Copyright 2018 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.