TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama litter crews gathered more than 113 tons of roadside litter in the Tuscaloosa area in 2019, officials announced recently.
If the litter were measured in plastic bottles, it would stretch from Tuscaloosa to Dallas “with a few miles to spare,” said John McWilliams, a spokesman for the Alabama Department of Transportation’s West Central Region.
The state’s costs to clean up roadside litter have reached $200,000 in Tuscaloosa County and $6.8 million statewide.
State officials have highlighted problems with roadside litter in the past, The Tuscaloosa News reported. They launched a statewide litter awareness campaign in 2018.
They named that campaign “Trash Costs Cash." It included public service messages on social media sites, television and radio.
“Litter is an embarrassment to our region and state,” James Brown, ALDOT’s West Central Region engineer, said in a news release announcing the 2018 campaign.
“We don’t have funding or personnel to pick up trash thrown on our highways by inconsiderate motorists," he said at the time. “All of us need to be mindful of the negative impact we have when we litter our highways."
The state defines litter as trash, waste or garbage that’s scattered and hasn’t been properly disposed. Roadside litter can include fast-food wrappers, beverage containers, cigarette butts and other items that aren’t properly disposed.
In Alabama, littering is classified as a Class C misdemeanor that comes with a minimum fine of $250 for the first conviction. The second and any subsequent conviction is $500.