A few stretches of local highway will get a facelift this week as Caltrans crews will be out for the agency’s annual litter pick-up day.
Highway 12 from the Calaveras and San Joaquin County line to Haupt Creek Road will get a cleanup, as will Highway 120 from the San Joaquin and Tuolumne County line to Green Springs Road west of Jamestown and North Sunshine Road on Highway 108 to County Dump Road.
Caltrans conducts an annual cleanup as a way to beautify trouble spots on highways around the state while raising awareness about litter rules. Caltrans spokesperson Angela DePrato said on Monday that maintenance crews also regularly respond to litter calls on an as-needed basis.
“It’s not something that we wait for for it to pile up,” DePrato said.
This year, about 30 maintenance workers will cover the Tuolumne County spots and 20 will work in Calaveras County. Volunteers with the Adopt-A-Highway program will also be on hand, according to Caltrans.
DePrato said spots are chosen that are not part of the Adopt-A-Highway program, many of which have center medians that are not adoptable due to safety concerns.
“Caltrans utilizes this day to tend to those spots that are generally hard to get to,” she said in an email.
During last year’s cleanup day, Tuolumne County crews filled 86 33-gallon bags of litter and Calaveras County crews picked up more than 30. Throughout the entire year of 2010, Caltrans collected and disposed of 141,000 cubic yards of litter, enough to fill almost 9,000 garbage trucks. The state spent about $50 million cleaning up the highway systems around the state the same year.
According to Don’t Trash California, a state-run anti-littering campaign, cigarette butts are the most common form of litter found along the state’s highways, followed by mattresses, refrigerators, rugs, ladders, paper, food waste, bottles and cans.
DePrato said the most common items found along foothill highways are fast-food wrappers.
Litter is a “serious threat” to the environment and human health, according to Caltrans, and can hurt wildlife, clog and pollute waterways, damage vegetation and cause accidents. Burning cigarettes thrown from cars can also lead to wildfires.
According to the state Department of Motor Vehicles, littering is punishable by a fine of between $100 and $1,000.