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Deputy Director of Maintenance Dan Freeman speaking in front of the large pile of items collected on the Hollywood Freeway.

Caltrans Spring Cleaning Day 2010
by  Patrick Chandler
Issue Date: 05/2010

[Click on photos to read captions.]

As part of the department’s participation in Earth Day on Thursday, April 22, District 7 held its Spring Cleaning Day press conference at the Heliotrope Maintenance Yard in Hollywood. Similar events were held statewide.

Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol (CHP) emphasized that everyone has to take a part in keeping California clean. Showcased were a couch, license plates, car and truck bumpers, grocery carts, futons, food wrappers, lost loads and many other trash items – all found on the freeway in only four days.

In addition to the press conference, KTLA Channel 5’s Jesse Gary did his morning show segment in front of the large pile of debris that was collected by the crewmembers at the Heliotrope Yard. Stormwater’s Ed Castro and Tony Garcia also attended the event. Castro and Garcia showed the media how “Scooter” the culvert inspection robot worked by sending him inside of a culvert under the northbound side of the Hollywood Freeway (US 101). Overall, the media turnout was much larger than expected.

Every year Caltrans spends millions of dollars to fight litter and vandalism on Los Angeles freeways and highways. “In the last fiscal year District 7 spent $11 million year picking up 50,000 cubic yards of litter. That’s enough trash to fill the Coliseum 28 feet high,” said Deputy District Director of Maintenance Dan Freeman.

Last year District 7 spent $2.8 million cleaning up graffiti. So far $2 million has been spent this year. In 2007 maintenance crews painted over 7.6 million square feet of graffiti and in 2008, 6.5 million square feet.

“This is not the best use of Caltrans’ resources, but trash and vandals are out there so we are right behind them,” said Freeman.
“In 2008, the CHP ticketed 8,512 people for littering throughout California. This includes trash thrown from vehicles as well as unsecured loads being dumped on or near roadways,” said CHP Captain Calvin Beard.

“Fines range up to $1,000 and 24 hours of community service depending on the circumstances. Litter is unsightly, unhealthy and dangerous for people and wildlife. Our roadways are not a public trash can,” he said.
Through the Caltrans Adopt-A-Highway program, businesses, organizations and individuals can take responsibility for keeping a two-mile stretch of road free from litter.

Currently, in District 7 there are 144 active adoption groups in Los Angeles and Ventura counties and more than 2,575 statewide. They are making considerable inroads in roadside litter control and saving California taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Throughout the state, these volunteers picked up nearly 8,893 cubic liters of trash from July to December 2009.

Caltrans also partners with adjacent cities to maximize clean up efforts, and works with community groups such as schools, churches and charitable organizations.

“We need all the help we can get. So please get the word out – trash and litter have no place on our freeways,” said Freeman.
Here are some simple tips that can help you avoid being a bug:

• Carry a litter bag in your vehicle.
• Always cover and properly secure loads.
• Never discard a cigarette or other tobacco product along the roadway.
 

Items collected by the Heliotrope crews within only four days. Scooter the Culvert Inspection Robot The Stormwater Team operates Scooter KTLA's Jesse Gary interviewing Caltrans Patrick Chandler.