CDOT sends its entire workforce to clean up trash along I-25

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) – Everywhere you drive along Interstate 25 in Colorado, it seems to be littered with trash. The Colorado Department of Transportation said its offices have been inundated with calls about the issue. That’s why on Monday, they pulled all workers out of the Southeast Region office to help clean up.

CDOT says it is seeing an increase in litter on roads statewide. In fiscal year 2021, CDOT in the southeastern part of the state alone spent $1.65 million on roadside trash and debris collection.

From Colorado Springs to Trinidad, CDOT had 250 workers cleaning the shoulders of I-25. This includes everyone from the maintenance team to the executives who typically sit in the office every day.

“We have engineering here, we have our traffic department here, we have our maintenance staff and our office staff,” said Chuck Kline, CDOT region safety manager. “Everyone you can think of went out picking up trash today.”

These workers have put on their safety vests and gloves in hopes of making Colorado’s biggest freeway a little cleaner.

“It’s important because of the cost,” Kline said. “We spend a lot of money picking up trash where we’d like to use that money in other places, like potholes, railings, surface treatments. Either way, we would rather spend that money there than have to pick up rubbish.”

Part of the job of the CDOT maintenance crew is to pick up trash. However, they can only do this when there are no more pressing safety concerns, such as filling potholes.

Officials also tell KRDO that the amount of litter on our roads is reaching extreme levels.

“We found different fast food restaurants, there are tons of these bags,” Kline said. “I think the garbage trucks are obviously losing some of that. It’s only growing, and the level of traffic we have now compared to ten years ago is much higher. So we’re seeing more garbage.”

This is the first time CDOT has held a one-day trash pick-up event. But with hundreds of bags picked up on Monday, they are now looking to organize cleanings of all staff twice a year.

The goal is to make the highways cleaner and to be able to use taxpayers’ money to fix bigger road problems.

“I’m just asking again to throw your trash in bins – not on the side of the roads,” Kline said. “Believe it or not, it’s costing you money as a Colorado taxpayer.”

In addition to cleaning around I-25, crews picked up trash along Highway 50 in La Junta, Highway 287 in Lamar, and Highway 285 in Fairplay.

Michael A. Bynum