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Concerns about roadside trash grow

County and State officials have seen an uptick in complaints regarding the increased amount of roadside trash along our roads. 

“We’ve received calls before with folks having some comments about it and we pass them along best we can to DOT. I think there is an uptick (in roadside trash) and people are not happy about it,” said Brian Alligood, County Manager for Beaufort County. 

According to Alligood, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (DOT) are the ones responsible for cleanup efforts when it comes to roadside trash. Due to the pandemic and recent budget cuts, multiple scheduled cleanups had to be canceled over the past year.

Beaufort County resident fishing guide Richard Andrews is one of many who have noticed an increase in roadside trash and debris. 

“Normally it’s more present in the winter when the grass along the roads are dead or dying and you notice more when it’s wet when the ditches are full or water because everything just floats up,” Andrews said. “I’ve lived here my whole life and it’s never been this bad.”

The DOT and the county have both experienced an increase in feedback from community members like Andrews. The comments received by the county are being passed on through Alligood and other county officials to the DOT who are actively working towards a solution. 

“We are going to do some litter pickup by contract this year on our four lane primary roads. As of right now, we’re going to do that one time prior to July 1,” said Vann Sparrow, Division Landscape Engineer for Highway Division 2 with the DOT.  “That’s all we have planned right now, we have to wait and see what kind of allocation we get after July 1 to see if we’ll be doing any more this year.” 

In addition to the contract clean up planned by the DOT, community members are encouraged to sign up for the Adopt a Highway program. This allows groups of volunteers to pick up roadside trash along a stretch of highway. According to Alligood, all materials are provided by the DOT and the litter is collected and handled by the department. 

Alligood said the council is working to take action and provide residents with resources if littering is witnessed or if trash continues to accumulate. 

“We added some information to our website about the Swat a Litterbug program where folks can go and see it and that allows you to go to the DOT’s website and report someone that you see throwing trash out of a motor vehicle,” Alligood said. 

Reporting individuals who litter is a key step in working toward less roadside trash according to Sparrow. The problem will only continue to get worse if the offenders are not held responsible for their actions.