BALTIMORE, MD—The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration on Friday launched “Operation Clean Sweep Maryland,” a new initiative that will nearly double the frequency of litter pickup and mowing efforts along Maryland roads. The program is beginning in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C. regions.
“Maryland’s highways connect us to friends, family, schools, jobs and recreation, and serve as the welcome mat for visitors to our state,” said Acting Maryland Transportation Secretary Paul J. Wiedefeld. “We can’t allow litter to destroy the beauty of our communities and threaten our safety and the environment. We need the help of everyone to tackle this problem, and our state highway crews are prepared to lead the way.”
Litter finds its way into drainage systems and ultimately into Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay tributaries. Litter removal is critical to perform mowing operations safely and efficiently. In addition to hindering mowing and landscape efforts, trash severely impacts roadside drainage facilities, causing rain and snow melt to pond on the roads. This creates a major safety hazard for the traveling public.
Due to a mild winter, State Highway Administration crews anticipate roadside mowing will be required earlier than usual. This week, State Highway Administration crews and contractors will begin sweeps through highly traveled areas to perform litter pickup operations, and litter removal cycles will nearly double throughout the mowing season to keep up with litter issues.
The State Highway Administration will reach out to local jurisdictions to coordinate additional cleanup efforts. Citizens can help by reporting issues of litter and high grass on state roads by clicking here or by calling 410-545-0300.
The State Highway Administration has increased its annual maintenance budget more than 30% compared to last year to nearly $30 million to accommodate additional litter removal and mowing efforts. Operation Clean Sweep Maryland will include hiring additional state employees to increase the frequency of litter pickup. The State Highway Administration also will purchase additional mowing equipment and develop contract resources to maintain increased mowing and litter removal cycles.
“We recognize more needs to be done to keep Maryland’s roads well-maintained and litter-free,” said State Highway Administrator Tim Smith. “We’re increasing our efforts, but we need the public’s help as well. We ask that everyone put trash where it belongs: in a trash can.”
The State Highway Administration spent approximately $39 million over the last five years collecting and disposing more than 26,000 truckloads of litter along state roads. Annually, the agency collects approximately 5,300 truckloads of trash at a cost of more than $7 million.
Litter crews work directly adjacent to traffic. As Operation Clean Sweep Maryland gets underway, motorists should pay close attention and reduce speeds and distractions when traveling near work crews. Move over whenever possible when you see crews working on the shoulders, and help make sure everyone makes it home safely.
Operation Clean Sweep Maryland supports the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Be a Superhero! Put litter in its Place campaign, which offers people of all ages educational materials to learn about the devastating effects litter has on Maryland’s economic development, tourism and quality of life.
Photo by Taras Makarenko from Pexels