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The Arizona Department of Transportation would like to thank Gene Ostwald of Rio Rico and respond to his letter to the editor (“Ready to tackle litter problem,” NI, Jan. 29). We agree that littering is a problem that needs to be addressed, and ADOT has a long history of doing that. 

ADOT welcomes individuals, families, organizations and businesses to join the Adopt a Highway Volunteer program. Volunteer groups, such as the Green Valley Litter Patrol have stepped up to take on the fight against litter in their communities. 

Last year, 1,200 engaged volunteer groups participated in  filling 7,893 bags of trash across 1,982 miles of Arizona highway. Volunteer efforts saved the state of Arizona $235,900 last year. And that is separate from the Adopt a Highway Sponsor program, where businesses pay to keep segments of freeway clean.

ADOT maintenance crews first and foremost perform safety-related functions, such as pavement maintenance, guardrail repair and so forth, but they also remove litter as often as possible to augment the work of  our volunteers and paid litter-removal companies. One added challenge we currently face because of public health restrictions is the unavailability of state prison inmate work crews that do this work as well. 

ADOT educates the public through Litter.az.gov  about laws and harmful effects of littering. We welcome reports of littering through this portal. When you report someone, we send a letter to the car’s owner letting them know that litter may have been seen thrown from their car. We remind them of the negative impact of the litter, and the cost to taxpayers of cleaning litter from highways.

Additionally, we reinforce the financial penalties for littering, and the fact that littering can result in a $500 fine if they are spotted by law enforcement. With that letter, we provide a small litter bag for their car in the hopes that they’ll help keep Arizona grand.

Mary Currie

ADOT Adopt-a-Highway Programs

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