The Arizona Department of Transportation recently announced a new website aimed at giving Arizonans an easier way to report littering.
ADOT created Litter.AZ.gov, the landing page of the Arizona Litter Hotline, for motorists to report others they catch red-handed littering on Arizona highways.
Officials say the information Arizonans provide, including a license plate number and the type of litter, may be useful in reducing the state’s $4 million-a-year littering problem.
You may not be a police officer who can issue a $500 citation for littering, but your report could lead to a warning for the littering driver. The warnings are sent with a small plastic bag so drivers can properly dispose of their trash, should they be tempted to litter again.
More than 1,200 letters have been sent out in the past year after violations were reported to the state.
ADOT is trying to diagnose littering trends by tracking the location and time noted in each report, which can be done even if someone doesn’t record a plate number.
For the past 34 years in Tucson, community groups have taken another approach to reduce litter: cleaning it up themselves.
Tucson Clean and Beautiful operates the Adopt a Public Site program in which volunteers clean up litter .
The nonprofit says there are currently 301 stewarded sites cleaned by 6,376 volunteers. They’ve completed more than 300,000 service hours and have helped save the city hundreds of thousands of dollars every year, the organization’s website says.
“Most of the volunteer groups have streets, (and) they have a good time,” said Georgia Pennington, a volunteer coordinator with the program. She added that volunteers are also asked to report anything major found during their cleanings, including overhanging trees or mattresses.
“They just do litter, which is a big enough job and more than they’re required. It’s amazing, these volunteers,” she said.
But keeping the sites clean can be a challenge.
Pennington recently had to deactivate 100 sites in the city and make them available for adoption after those areas weren’t cleaned by volunteers in more than a year. The organization asks that groups clean the sites monthly.
She’s been reaching out to neighborhood associations and putting up fliers to get more people to take care of the sites in their neighborhoods.
One site in need is De Anza Park, near East Speedway and North Stone Avenue. The previous volunteers felt they could no longer engage with the homeless population at the park, said Sofia Angkasa, the program manager.
Angkasa said it’ll take another willing group to find out that other people “are not so different than us.”
The park, along with other places in Tucson, is open for groups of at least five people. If interested, a group can find a site using the organization’s map at http://tucne.ws/170t or by calling (520) 837-6834 to let organizers know what area of town they’d like to work in. Supplies will be provided.
After a six-month evaluation of your adopted park, path, street, wash or traffic circle, your group will be recognized with a sign and a ceremony.
Whether state or local, there are problems with littering and illegal dumping, but Angkasa says we all have the choice to make a better, more livable environment for ourselves and others.
Down the Road
• Eastbound I-10 frontage road near Ina to see slope work ADOT crews will constrict the eastbound Interstate 10 frontage road between Cortaro and Ina roads beginning Sunday night.
The frontage road will narrow to one lane as they work on the slopes between eastbound I-10 and the frontage road.
On Friday night, crews will pave the eastbound frontage road between Cortaro and Starcommerce Way. The work will affect traffic in both areas.
Motorists should use caution and watch for personnel.
• I-10 between Speedway, Prince set for pavement work Thursday: Motorists using I-10 near Speedway and Prince Road will experience lane closures Thursday and Friday due to pavement work.
From 9 p.m. Thursday to 5 a.m. Friday, crews will narrow the highway to one lane in both directions. A 14-foot wide vehicle restriction will be in place.
Next Sunday, they will work between Speedway and 22nd Street, narrowing the highway to one lane in both directions.
In both cases, motorists should allow extra travel time.
• I-10 lane closures set in Casa Grande: Crews will restrict I-10 to one lane Tuesday night at 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. for pavement work near Florence Boulevard in Casa Grande.
A 14-foot vehicle width restriction will be in place.