Inside Seven
Current Issue: September 2014
Michael Serna and Joi Stewart of the North Hollywood Maintenance Landscape Crew MCLEAN-ing up the northbound SR-170 from SR-134 to Laurel Canyon.

by  Maria Raptis
Issue Date: 02/2007

Many people start the new year by cleaning their desks, e-mails and closets. District 7 Maintenance is cleaning up the roadways.

Early in the 2006 fiscal year, with a $5-million statewide budget, Director Will Kempton launched a new program called “MCLEAN,” a route-specific and comprehensive litter abatement plan. With its $1.6-million portion of the total budget, District 7’s Maintenance Division started this year with an aggressive effort to clean up the roadsides. 


“The MCLEAN program is a vital portion of Director Kempton's commitment to keep California roadsides clean,” said Dan Freeman, Deputy District Director of Maintenance.  “In the fast food, throw away world we live in, it is easy to forget what the consequences are of tossing litter out of the vehicle window.   In Maintenance, we know firsthand that those consequences are a huge effort by staff in time and manpower with a large dollar cost to the taxpayers.”


Last year, Caltrans District 7 collected over 50,000 cubic yards of litter and debris (enough to fill a football field 28 feet high) from the freeways and swept 37,276 line miles at a cost of over $12 million. Statewide, 178,723 cubic yards of litter were collected on California’s highways during the fiscal year at a cost of $50 million.  For example, a typical garbage truck is 27 feet long and carries 16 cubic yards.  The amount of garbage collected on California’s highways last year could fill 11,170 trucks, according to a Caltrans 2005/06 fiscal year report.  


Another consequence of litter is storm water runoff pollution.  Storm drains are meant to collect and carry clean rainwater into the drains.  But roadside litter, trash, cigarettes and debris can eventually end up in public bodies of water. 


Richard Gordon, Office Chief, Maintenance, explains, “This District is using every resource to cover all freeways including our own forces, contractors, Adopt-A-Highway volunteers and the Special Programs crews. This is the first time District 7 has contracted for roadside litter removal. ”  


Special Programs crews include those who are court-ordered referrals, on probation or in a work-release program.


“When deciding where to begin MCLEAN on the 1,188 freeway miles of District 7’s 42 freeways and highways,” said Gordon, “we first determined which freeway segments had been adopted through the Adopt-A-Highway program.  We then supplemented that program by assigning freeway segments to contractors and Caltrans Maintenance forces. The plan is to increase litter and debris removal efforts at those locations in urbanized areas that generate high levels of litter,” he added.  


MCLEAN guidelines require that all cleaning efforts be tracked by the number of shoulder miles, the volume of the litter and by cost and photographed with before- and-after images.  


“By tracking these statistics, we will be able to determine the frequency of cleaning needed on particular freeway segments.  Frequency varies by locations...some areas will need weekly attention and some will be scheduled for every other week,” said Gordon. 


And Freeman reminds the public, “Safety is Caltrans’ number one priority yet more and more time is spent on cleanup.  Let’s keep the Maintenance staff working on the top priority of keeping the roads safe, and please, don't trash California.”

On westbound SR-134, a deck of cards thrown out the window gives MCLEAN crews 52 more things to do.  Caltrans'  DON'T TRASH CALIFORNIA campaign will hopefully reduce millions of dollars spent on roadside cleanup and orange bags. Before:  On the Northbound SR-170  
After:  Matt Klasen, Maintenence Supervisor, North Region,  and his crew, are responsible for this significant MCLEAN-up.