Ahh, litter: the dreaded L-word for VDOT. To say that litter is an eyesore for passersby is a colossal understatement, and it can range from discarded soda cans and food wrappers to furniture, housing materials and other things best left to the imagination. At the Board of Supervisors meeting in Westmoreland County last week, VDOT representatives were on hand to unveil the Virginia is for Lovers, not Litter program.
According to loversnotlitter.org, 52% of roadside litter comes from motorists, while another 23% is from pedestrians. Down in Hampton Roads, $2 million is spent on cleaning it up each year, while VDOT usually spends about $3.5 million in cleanup. Nationwide, litter cleanup totals $11.5 billion. On a more local scale, VDOT will be shelling out $70,000 for cleanup within the Northern Neck this fall, with $14,000 of that finding its way to Westmoreland County.
There are three major programs in this: Keep Virginia Beautiful, which does both training and events for litter pickups, Beautify Virginia, which gives an individual or business the opportunity to sponsor a pickup and lastly Adopt-a-Highway. In the case of the third, VDOT asks a group to adopt a 2-mile segment of highway and pick up litter along that road twice a year, providing bags, vests and a sign acknowledging the group. There are currently 17 stretches of highway that have been adopted in the county, totaling 36 miles.
Westmoreland County has had an especially large problem with litter in the area surrounding the garbage dump. It can be quite frustrating for the folks at VDOT that do the cleaning, as they can leave the stretch spick and span, but one week later, it’s a mess again.
Chairman Darryl Fisher also expressed frustration with the situation, noting, “It’s not the residents on that particular road that are throwing their trash out there.”