HAMILTON – New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) officials announced a statewide fight against litter this week in which crews will patrol every mile of state highway during the month of March to pick up a winter’s worth of trash. The concentrated litter-removal effort supports the ongoing ‘Clean Up NJ’ initiative which brings a renewed focus to the important job of improving the appearance of New Jersey roadways.
“Ever since Superstorm Sandy, our maintenance crews have been extremely busy, either with Sandy recovery efforts or in response to dozens of winter storms that have required a great deal of work to keep our roads free of snow and ice,” Commissioner James Simpson said. “However, we now are making an all-out effort to clean our highways, because appearances do matter to residents and visitors and to companies that are thinking of relocating to New Jersey.”
This litter removal operation is designed to be a fast moving, mass attack on litter that will show immediate, noticeable results. “In addition to the current effort, NJDOT is planning major litter removal operations several other times in 2013, preceding grass mowing cycles to avoid occurrences of mowers shredding the litter,” said NJDOT Assistant Commissioner of Operations Rich Shaw.
Department of Corrections inmate crews once again will be supporting clean-up efforts along certain highway locations this year, as they have to great effect in the past two years.
NJDOT crews and DOC inmates have collected about 10,000 tons of litter, or 20 million pounds, along state highways since the beginning of the Christie Administration in January, 2010. This is enough trash to bury an entire football field to a depth of 25 feet.
“Motorists play an important role in keeping New Jersey highways neat and attractive,” Simpson said. “Tossing trash out of a car window is an unnecessary act, given how simple it is to stow the trash until you reach your destination and dispose of it properly. When children see adults litter, it sends the wrong message.”
Every hour that NJDOT crews spend picking up after those who choose to litter is an hour that could have been spent making other improvements to the highways, such as filling potholes, fixing guide rails, trimming trees or removing graffiti. Litter can clog storm drains and create potentially dangerous flash-flood conditions along roadways.
NJDOT launched the ‘Clean Up NJ’ initiative in 2010 to make noticeable improvements in the appearance of state roadways. Under the initiative, NJDOT crews have periodically attended to all the maintenance needs along specific corridors. This strategy solves multiple maintenance issues that would be too large for a single crew to handle in a limited time frame. It combines the flexibility to respond to suggestions and concerns of residents and elected officials while also creating the capability to aggressively target specific corridors.
Other components of the ‘Clean up NJ’ initiative include the Urban Youth Corps program, wildflower plantings and a revived Adopt-A-Highway program.
To report a roadway maintenance issue on a state highway, motorists can call 1-800-POTHOLE or click on the Highway Maintenance Reporting button on the NJDOT homepage at www.nj.gov/transportation
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