9,500 garbage trucks filled with trash from California roadways in 2015

Anabel Munoz Image
Thursday, April 21, 2016
9,500 garbage trucks filled with litter from California roadways in 2015
Caltrans said 9,500 garbage trucks were filled with trash from California roadways in 2015 at a cost of $76 million.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Two things that Southern Californians see frequently on freeways are traffic and trash, but the California Department of Transportation hopes to fix the latter with its new highway cleanup campaign.

Caltrans said it spent $76 million to remove 9,500 garbage trucks worth of trash last year from roadways in 2015.

Those trucks lined end-to-end would stretch more than 50 miles, or about the distance from Los Angeles to Riverside.

"Throwing it out the window is very costly. It just doesn't end there, our crews have to pick it up," Patrick Chandler with Caltrans explained.

Besides the cost of cleaning up trash, officials said the debris is dangerous to the crews who have to clean it up and drivers on the roadways.

"It's not only unsightly, unhealthy, but also very dangerous. Cars traveling along the freeway, you know, swerving to avoid trash on the freeway and hit another vehicle. We've seen the worst case of scenarios where people are dying because of that," Chris Baldonado with the California Highway Patrol said.

"Our guys get hit, at least once a month our vehicles are hit," Chandler said.

The CHP and Caltrans teamed up with the Department of Fish and Wildlife to raise awareness about the harmful effects of littering to the environment.

"Everything that's allowed to get into the storm drains in west Los Angeles enters Ballona Creek and flows out into the ecological reserve and eventually the surf line up," Richard Brody with the Department of Fish and Wildlife explained.

Officials said easy steps can be taken to prevent trash from ending up on roadways, such as properly tying down heavy loads and keeping a trash bag in the car.

"I get a sense that people don't care much about the city that they live in or they think that someone else will take care of it for them," Brody said.

While Caltrans spends millions on collecting waste, they said the money wasted there could be used to fix the roads many complain about.

"That money that's going to removing the litter and debris is also not going to improving our roads," Carrie Bowen, district director of Caltrans District 7 explained.