Adopt a Highway

(Shreveport, LA)    Alongside many of the roads in and around the City of Shreveport it seems everything is growing, from the tall grass, to the amount of litter those weeds often camouflage.

"I see litter pretty much everywhere. We see washing machines, air conditioners and everything laying around in my area," said Jimmy Jenkins of Shreveport.

We hit the streets around the Port City to see just how much litter we would find and it didn't take long. Right across the street from our KTBS Studios on Kings Highway sat a pile of fast food wrappers and cups at a bus stop. They had been sitting there for more than a week.

On the side of Jewella Avenue we found piles of old beer cans, but just off the road about 10 feet below were piles of trash. Some of the junk had been sitting along the road for years.

Along Interstate 49, much of the same. Just off the median KTBS discovered a sea of discarded plastic, including needles lying on the ground.

"I've seen mufflers, hubcaps, anything you can name, paper, trash, it's just bad. We need to work together and try to keep it clean you know," said Quentin Perkins of Shreveport as he cleaned up near a sidewalk on Kings Highway.

Motorists should be careful while pulling over on the side of the road with a flat. Along I-49, KTBS found seen large pieces of debris and other things that could turn one flat tire into four.

But as KTBS has reported the past, due to budgetary and staffing issues, getting workers from the city to just show up with shovels isn't going to happen anytime soon.

"If there's something that's been sitting out that's needs picked up I would encourage them to call, especially if it becomes an issue. We'll get somebody out as soon as we can to get somebody to pick it up," sanitation manager Gary Brown said. 

The trash budget is a lot higher for the Louisiana Department of Transportation that takes care of roads outside the city limits. Last year was a particularly busy one for DOT workers who collected more than 60,000 cubic yards of trash. That's enough to cover more than 27 football fields.

"Here locally in this seven parish northwest Louisiana district we picked up over 500 bags of trash and that was just from 8 am until 11 am. Three hours and 500 bags of trash,' said Erin Buchanan, Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development spokeswoman.

The cost of cleaning up continues to fall on taxpayers. According to Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Louisiana, taxpayers shelled out more than $40 million for litter control.

"Let's talk about the teeth of the problem and that's the enforcement side of it. People don't tend to drink and drive and don't tend to speed much over the limit if they think that it's unsafe to do so, but also there's going to be consequences for their actions. So that also has to come in play somewhere," said Buchanan.

Crews from the Louisiana DOTD scan roads, like I-49 on a weekly basis, but only remove debris that can be deemed dangerous. In the last two years the City of Shreveport has seen a decrease in the amount of city workers able to pick up the littler. They also focus on problem areas reported by neighbors.

To help combat the growing cost of cleaning up, state agencies like the Louisiana State Police, have begun cracking down and where you decide to litter can have a big impact on your wallet.

If you get caught dropping a candy wrapper on the ground, it may be considered simple littering and you'd receive a $175 fine. But get caught throwing that same wrapper out of your car window and it's considered intentional littering and you could pay up to $250.

As crews cut the sides of the roads along I-49 and state Highway 3132, more trash will be visible to those passing by, but with another road of planned cleanups aren't planned by the DOTD or the city until the fall, until then it will be up to people like Quentin Perkins to help.

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