Opinion: Let’s fight roadway litter together

By Laurie Berman

Caltrans District 11 Director

A letter recently published in the Light criticized the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) for seemingly turning a deaf ear to the problem of litter near the Interstate 5/State Route 52/La Jolla Parkway interchange.

As Caltrans district director, I instill in my workforce the need to listen to community concerns and respond quickly when it is safe, prudent and within our jurisdiction. We have listened and responded by removing litter and weeds from this area on several occasions during the past few months.

We have all been asked to do more with less during the recent economic downturn, and Caltrans is no different. We have prioritized our efforts to focus first on the immediate impacts to public safety, such as emergency incident response and road repairs. Landscape maintenance and litter, although important, fall next in line for our attention.

I am keenly aware of the impact that litter has on a community and how the cleanup cycle is never ending. We must police ourselves and educate our children that it is not OK to throw that wrapper out the window. We must also secure our truck loads and report road hazards by calling 9-1-1 as quickly as it is safe to do so.

In the meantime, Caltrans will continue to listen and respond. Last year we spent $2.4 million on removing litter from highways throughout the region. That was taxpayer’s money that could have been better spent on transportation improvements.

I encourage you to take an active role in helping with the growing litter problem through education, getting involved in community cleanups and considering organizing a volunteer group with the Caltrans Adopt-A-Highway Program.

To learn more about our programs and to report state transportation concerns, contact our Public Information Office at (619) 688-6670. I commit that you will get a response to your concerns with a return phone call and a plan of action.