Where have all the freeway sweepers gone?

ARLETA, Calif. Have you seen them lately?

Trash, split tires, fast food containers, plastic bags and bottles litter the roadways, and motorists say it seems to be getting worse.

"The freeway's filthy," said Charles Beatty II as he pumped gas into his car. "It reminds me of a garbage dump. The thing about it, it's not just the freeways. It's the streets, because there aren't any street sweepers anymore. I don't know what's going on."

Sweepers on the freeways may be inconvenient for drivers because they hold up traffic, but they're necessary for keeping the freeways clean. But that's happening less frequently because of state budget cuts.

"All the Caltrans employees have been subject to 3-day furloughs for the last 16 months," said Dan Freeman with Caltrans. "That's three days that they're not picking up trash or maintaining the roads, so it tends to accumulate when they're not picking it up."

In L.A., there's a double dish of bad news.

Along with the trash, funds to clean graffiti off walls and overpasses are also running low.

Many motorists, disgusted with the blight, think the answer is not in Sacramento or city hall, but amongst us.

"We have to be more careful," said Fernando Farias, a motorist. "If you could just hold your trash in your car, when you get out of your car go to a trash can and throw it away. We can make a difference."

"We all have to live here," Beatty added. "It's like the commercials you see when the guys come in and throw trash in your house. You wouldn't do that to your house, so why would you do that to California? Technically, it is your home."

Perhaps in the past people thought someone else would be around to clean up the mess they throw out the window, but those days are over.

Now it really is up to each and every one of us. Or we live with trash piles growing bigger and bigger.

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