Caltrans, CHP resume trash removal from roadways

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Roadside trash removal is beginning to pick up across Fresno and the rest of the state.

Caltrans and the Highway Patrol announced a collaborated effort Tuesday to resume their littler abatement program after clean-up was suspended during 'shelter in place' orders

"We're back at work today, making sure we can clean up our freeways and our entryways into our wonderful city and county," said Fresno County Supervisor Steve Brandau.

As more people head back to work, officials are anticipating the problem will only get worse.

Last year alone the local Caltrans district office spent $65 million on litter abatement, while enough trash was collected statewide to fill 18,000 garbage trucks.

"Practically all Caltrans maintenance employees are out there cleaning the litter. We understand there is a very large backload of litter out there so we're just trying to increase the condition of the freeways right now," said John Liu with Caltrans.

Homeless encampments along local highways remain a major eyesore though.

Caltrans officials blame COVID-19 restrictions for not doing more to clean up these areas while they wait for guidance from health officials.

"At this time we are doing very selective removal of homeless individuals when there is a safety concern. We are working hand in hand with the CHP to deal with some of the encampments along Highway 41," said Liu.

Individuals living along state highways are given a 72-hour notice by CHP officers per state law, to allow them time to find a new location before encampments can be cleared

"As you'll see in the future when we're able to start removing those encampments, we will have closures and marked units and signage and press releases so people are aware when you're traveling through the area to be safe," said Captain Brian Hawkins with the California Highway Patrol.
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