Picking up trash and debris along the Turner Turnpike

Monday, July 19th 2004, 10:17 am
By: News On 6

Trash on the highway not only looks bad, it causes accidents. Worse than that, it causes fatal accidents.

News on 6 reporter Rick Wells went out with a clean up crew Monday, and found out they've seen it all, everything but the kitchen sink.

"We found a color TV one time, it worked, we find cell phones and pagers." Charles Hill is a member of an inmate work crew that walks the Turner Turnpike everyday picking up other people’s junk. They are non-violent inmates at the John Lilley Correctional facility in Boley.

The crew will make about 8 miles then pick up the next day where they left off, everyday, Monday thru Thursday. "It's a never ending battle, you never get caught up." Steve Allen is Maintenance Supervisor for the Turner Turnpike. He says most of his employees pick up trash even on the way to work.

Most of it is tire debris, treads and pieces of rubber, "Road Gators" they call them, because bits of steel in the treads will bite you if you're not careful. AAA surveyed the 36 states that pickup road debris on a regular basis, most listed tire treads the biggest problem.

Allen: "This time of year, being hot, we seem to have more rubber on the road than anything else." But that's not all. Inmate Tony Callen: "Tools, lifejackets." Allen: "Wood blowing out of pickups, ladders, chairs, cushions from couches."

If it's something good they'll hold it for a while in kind of a lost and found, most of it goes to the landfill. Callen: "I found $6 a while ago." With the inmate crews it's not finder’s keepers, money they find they have to turn in.

That AAA survey says road debris causes 25,000 traffic accidents every year, causing 80 deaths.