The Valley's Trashed Out Roads

Caltrans spends 55-million dollars a year to keep our highways trash free. The City of Fresno spends over a million to do the same thing. But there's no hiding the fact that neither is winning the war on litter. {}

Spring is when Valley highways look their best with beautiful flowers pushing out. But all that ugly litter ruins the view. Brandy Rivera has seen cleaner highways out west. "We just got back from Arizona and Nevada and it's so clean over there. You come into California and it was just instantly a totally different scene, the trash, the garbage, the papers."

Caltrans has{}signs{}that read {}"Don't Trash California" but it seems no one is paying attention. "It makes me mad when{}I sit there and see a car in front of me a cup flies out the window," said Crystal Amavisca.

Last year Caltrans workers and volunteers in the Adopt-A-Highway program collected 33-thousand bags of trash in five Valley counties: Fresno, Madera, Kings, Tulare and Kern.

The City of Fresno has a litter control program but resources are limited. Workers focus on trashy streets and illegal dumpsites by canals and alleys. Patrick Wiemiller is Public Works Director. "I think most people get it, but there are enough people that don't who contribute to the problem that it's creating quite a challenge out there."

In February we showed how the City of Fresno, Caltrans and inmates from Madera County were making a difference on the litter patrol. But funding for the program dried up and the litter patrol is out of a job.

So why doesn't the City of Fresno rely on Fresno County inmates to clean up littered roadways and let them earn community service credit? Patrick Wiemiller has an answer. "Those inmates aren't available anymore. They don't exist. Folks they now have locked up aren't the sort of folks we want to have out in neighborhoods."

You don't have to drive far to see the litter problem, and it's not something you can ignore. "It's horrible because it's like we should be proud of our city or town and to keep it clean and keep everything picked up and fixed up. It's kind of bad when you go through those roads and they look the way they do," said Amavisca.

There are{}big orange sweepers that are a common sight rolling down state highways here in the Valley. Over the course of a year two sweepers will log over 10-thousand miles. What might surprise you on a daily basis those two sweepers will pick up 2 to 3 tons of trash that people toss out their windows.

Viewers on Facebook don't like what they're seeing either. Calvin Cassle writes, "Auberry Road has a lot of trash resulting from littering and stray trash that comes from garbage trucks. As a cyclist and frequent rider on Auberry Road{}I am also up close and personal with an unbelievable variety of junk that collects in the bike lane."

Patrick Rose adds, "Ashlan off ramp, off the 168 is one of the worst."

People that we talked to don't believe the litter problem will ever get better. "No{}I don't think it will. I really don't. I just think it's the way of the times now," said Rivera. But Fresno's Public Works Director isn't about to toss in the towel. "I'm certainly not ready to accept it because one way or the other we have to do better than what we're doing. So{}I think it comes from a combination of more resources and citizen involvement."

The Caltrans Adopt-A-Highway program has close to 300 areas in five Valley counties available for adoption. You become responsible for cleaning a two mile stretch once a month.