Hoping to prevent a $4 million problem marring Ohio’s highway system, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) kicked off its annual spring litter cleanup by enlisting the help of an army of volunteers to prevent litter in the state’s Clear Across Ohio campaign.
Gov. Ted Strickland proclaimed April as “Keep Ohio Beautiful Month.” In celebration, ODOT has partnered with Keep Ohio Beautiful on the Great American Cleanup, which officially kicked off statewide with an event March 29 at the Street Market in Toledo.
ODOT District 11 Deputy Director Dick Bible said, “As a way to show our support and participation, our county maintenance crews throughout east-central Ohio are picking up litter today.”
Statewide, ODOT’s highway crews collected nearly 10 million pounds of trash in 2007 at a cost of $4 million in labor and equipment expenses. That’s more than 500,000 bags of litter and debris taken off the roads and grassy medians along the state highway system.
“By embracing environmental stewardship, we can all prevent litter — Clear Across Ohio,” said ODOT Director James Beasley. “To give you some perspective, the $4 million spent last year to pick up highway litter could have instead been used to pave a new 40 mile two-lane road.”
The Great American Cleanup is the nation’s largest annual community improvement program. Cleanup activities are expected to involve as many as 2.5 million people volunteering more than 8 million hours to clean, beautify and improve 15,000 communities during events in all 50 states.
Ohio also has more than 1,400 groups — with at least one group in each county — who have joined ODOT’s Adopt-a-Highway program. Volunteer groups adopt a 2- mi. section or an interchange along the state highway system, picking up litter and debris a minimum of four times each year.