Don’t mess with Md. roads, state officials say

WASHINGTON — It might not be you, but someone is throwing out all that litter that lines area roads. And on Earth Day, state road crews want you to know that cleaning it up is a waste of time and money.

“The state of Maryland spends $8 million [a year] picking up trash,” said Valerie Burnette Edgar, spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration.

“Our maintenance forces could easily be filling potholes, redoing lines, fixing signs, mowing — this is money that could be put toward resurfacing,” she said.

And of course, littering can harm the environment. Stormwater can sweep trash into streams and rivers and even end up in reservoirs for drinking water and/or the Chesapeake Bay, SHA Administrator Greg Slater said.

“We all live here. Let’s keep our roads and this beautiful state litter-free,” he said.

The state details how costly litter can be nationally on its website.

Trash doesn’t have to be a problem though.

“People just need to keep it and take it and put it in its proper place. It’s easy enough,” Burnette Edgar said.

One successful way of keeping Maryland’s roads clean is the Adopt-A-Highway program. Since it began in 1989, the program has saved the state more than $3 million over the years.

How it works: Groups or businesses that adopt a portion of road pledge to either volunteer or pay for four cleanups a year. In return, signs advertising that group are displayed to passers-by.

“It’s a good way to have community service,” Burnette Edgar noted.

Group volunteers are allowed to pick up litter on smaller, slower roads. Edgar said. On larger roads, sponsorship money is used to hire contractors to pick up litter.

“We put a lot of effort into keeping our roads and roadsides clean all year long,” said Slater.

“We join Marylanders and the rest of the world in observing Earth Day, but we will continue to make environmental protection a priority and focus every single day.”

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