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Roadside trash a turn-off for Triangle transplants

February 13, 2019

For most of us, it’s common sense: The only way to get rid of garbage, no matter where you are, is to throw it in a trash can or dumpster.

But littering is still a big problem.

Drive around anywhere in the Triangle and you’ll find trash lining the sides of highways, interstates and even smaller roads.

According to the N.C. Department of Transportation, you can get fined between $250 and $1,000 if you litter intentionally.

Lydia Gillis just moved to Zebulon from Florida.

She said she was surprised and disappointed to find so much trash.

“I come here and it’s Styrofoam cups, dirty diapers, just cigarette boxes, bags of trash—like full bags of trash—just dumped at the side of the road,” Gillis said.

“I think this is gross, this is disgusting,” she added. “It smells bad, it looks bad. ... It makes me almost not run those trails, and that’s what drew me and my fiancé to Raleigh, was seeing all these wonderful greenways that they’re putting in place and have in place.”

The NCDOT maintains most of the major highways and roads in our area.

If it’s not owned by the state, it’s up to the municipality to keep the road clean.

“Remind people that it’s our responsibility to keep our city and our countryside clean,” Gillis said. “We shouldn’t rely on others to do it for us.”

John Roberson, Wake County’s solid waste management director, said cleaning up litter is an important part of fixing the litter problem, but it can reinforce the idea to some that it’s OK to litter because someone will clean it up. On the other hand, he said, small amounts of litter on roads invite more litter, he said.

Both the state and the county have had littering campaigns to help the issue.

They also have trash pick-up events, adopt-a-highway programs and free trash drop-off centers.

People can report debris on the NCDOT website.

The NCDOT will host a litter sweep in April, in which maintenance crews and volunteers pick up litter on roadsides.

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