The trash on California freeways is out of hand. So much so that billions of dollars is needed to clean them up. Governor Newsom has a pricey plan to clean California’s roadsides, the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reports.
How does California’s freeway trash compare to other states? The Washington State Department of Transportation states that during a two-year period, 10, 475 tons of trash were picked up from across various state roads. A study from February of last year found that there were over 500 million pieces of trash on Pennsylvania highways. Texas says that 362 million pieces of litter cover their roads every year. California? A Caltrans report from the 2018-2019 fiscal year found that 186,000 cubic yards, or about 105 miles worth of trash was collected from California roadways. This cost California taxpayers $102 million. And the cost has gotten worse with a $13 million increase to $115 million last year.
Roadside garbage in California is nothing new. Years ago, the California Department of Transportation or Caltrans, was able to keep up with the workload of clearing roadside trash. Over the years, though, a combination of roadside dumping and an increasing homelessness problem has lead to the department not being able to keep up. Homelessness in the state has unfortunately contributed to the problem. Entire encampments can be seen off of the side of many freeways, often set up in dangerous areas of high traffic or high speed such as on-ramps.
So what’s the plan? Governor Newsom wants $1.5 billion to clean up and an additional $12 billion to do something about the homeless problem and construct housing units. Caltrans hasn’t actually been forcing the homeless to move from areas alongside freeways when cleaning. Hopefully, this injection of funds is what’s needed to decrease homelessness in LA and the rate of some people littering and dumping. If not, Caltrans might eventually become overwhelmed.