Driving You Crazy: The trash along 6th Ave from Wadsworth to Federal is embarrassing

Eyesore for a city and state known for its beauty

Carol from Morrison writes, “What’s driving you crazy? The trash along 6th Ave from Wadsworth to Federal is embarrassing, unnecessary and more than an eyesore for a city and state known for its beauty and great environment. What a disgrace.”

I agree with you Carol. I think all of Colorado agrees with you. CDOT has a special set of work crews that handle this sort of thing. They pick up all the trash and road debris that accidently, or not so accidently, comes off or out of cars and trucks. The maintenance crew in charge of 6th Ave from Colfax to I-25 is also responsible for all maintenance activities on I-25 between 6th Ave and Hampden Ave. They also manage Wadsworth, Hampden and several other smaller roadways.

CDOT maintenance personnel tell me, “We'd love to have nice, clean roadways just as much at the citizen who posed the question. Unfortunately, we deal with high volumes of litter and unsecured debris flying off of trucks and cannot keep up with that demand that requires given our amount of staffing and other safety critical priorities such as guardrail repair, pothole work, snow removal, etc”.

CDOT typically spends about 10 percent of their yearly budget, about $3 million, on roadway debris cleanup.

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CDOT maintenance folks tells me to specifically clean up 6th Ave they use two large street sweeper machines and have an average of 15 people do all the work. Work like driving the sweepers and dump trucks the debris is put in. Work like picking up the big chunks of debris that the sweepers can’t get. And work like handling traffic control while the sweepers and trucks are on the highway. 

Typically, CDOT schedules these sweeping operations once a month, usually on the 3rd week of the month depending on weather, holidays and times they can’t because of other “safety critical priorities”. They also, for the most part, have to do this sweeping work at night when traffic volume is low and impacts to commuters is negligible. 

CDOT also uses Colorado Department of Corrections inmates through their Colorado Correctional Industries program to pick up trash along all of Colorado’s highways once a month. The inmates work in the grassy areas of the highway off the shoulders and put all the litter in trash bags that are later collected by CDOT maintenance staff.

Colorado also has the Adopt-a-Highway program that uses volunteers to pick up litter. Generally, the adopting group agrees to pick up trash from both sides of a highway for a two-mile section at a minimum of four times per year. Some groups have adopted several sections of highway. Groups get a road sign along their section of highway and all the trash bags they can fill.

There is also the Colorado Sponsor-a-Highway program. That allows anyone, usually businesses, to sponsor a clean-up crew to do the work. You’ve probably seen the signs around metro Denver and Colorado Springs. Highway and interstate sections are sponsored in one-mile segments, and are cleaned either 12 or 26 times a year.

Denver7 traffic anchor Jayson Luber says he has been covering Denver-metro traffic since Ben-Hur was driving a chariot. (We believe the actual number is over 20 years.) He's obsessed with letting viewers know what's happening on their drive and the best way to avoid the problems that spring up. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or listen to his Driving You Crazy podcast on iTunesStitcherGoogle Play, and Podbean

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