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What's Bugging You? Cleaning up freeway trash

October 12, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A few weeks ago Eyewitness News reported on trash on Southern California freeways: old tires, plastic bags, bottles and cups.

Soon after our story aired it was a very different story.

"It absolutely amazed me. I thought, 'Oh Carlos, you did it,'" said Eyewitness News viewer Joan Daste. Daste is the one who did it by sending us the original e-mail.

We then told Caltrans about the trash. Daste says the day after our story aired she couldn't believe what she saw on the freeway.

"Your piece on the television worked, because I got on the freeway like the next day, and here's all these people out there with little red vests picking up the trash on all four sides of the ramp where I get on, it looks so much better, it was just wonderful," said Daste. "And then up and down the freeway through the West Covina area."

We went back to the freeway and what a difference. Much of the trash was gone. The same areas that were littered with cups and bottles before were now much cleaner.

Obviously there is still a lot of trash on our freeways, but officials say no matter how much they clean up, they simply can't keep up if people continue to throw trash out of their car windows

To give you an idea how much trash there is, Caltrans says in Southern California alone they pick up about 50,000 cubic yards of debris, enough to fill a football stadium.

"We've got 900 people that maintain it," said Caltrans spokesman Dan Freeman. "It's 42 different freeways and highways and 1,100 center-line miles of road, and when they've got to pick up trash in addition to all that other stuff, it really makes it hard to keep up with it."

Joan Daste hopes our story will make drivers think twice before throwing trash out the windows...

"I think it's wonderful and I thank you guys so much. Carlos, you do a fantastic job getting things on the air that everyone should be aware of. Thank you, and thank ABC," said Daste.

Of course it's up to all of us to do our part to keep the freeways clean.


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