ODOT picked up more than 396,000 bags of trash from the sides of Interstates and U.S. routes in 2018. It took state employees, inmates and Adopt A Highway volunteers more than 157,000 hours to collect all that garbage, or the equivalent of 19,723 full work days. It cost Ohio taxpayers $4.1 million.
“Soggy cigarette cartons, empty Windex bottles, fast-food wrappers, chunks of Styrofoam, used straws, dirty diapers. Pretty much anything you can think of, you’ll see it out here,” said Mitchel Horne, a highway technician in a recent newspaper interview.
“Our guys could be out fixing guardrail or potholes,” said Brian Cunningham, a public information officer with District 8. “But we have to deploy folks across the state to pick up other people’s junk.”
ODOT collected more than 44,700 bags of trash from Cuyahoga County in 2018. That same year, Hamilton County produced 28,167 bags, while 17,611 bags of trash were collected in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties. It’s a never-ending cycle that repeats each year. It is an amazing array of what people will just leave on the side of the road: Tires. Bumpers. Couches. Refrigerators. Toilets.