In New Mexico there are places where lumber, pipe, toilets, couches and mattresses maybe found and it is not at local merchants or a big box store.
During a statewide trash cleanup June 5, New Mexico Department of Transportation (DOT) found myriad household and construction items and even medical waste along the highways and byways in parts of New Mexico, read a DOT news release.
DOT said 155 employees of the department collected nearly 18 tons of trash throughout the state. Employees accrued nearly 759 labor hours and the cost was nearly $27,000.
“The department is well aware there is a roadside litter issue in New Mexico,” said DOT Secretary Mike Sandoval in a news release.
“This event was coordinated internally with DOT employee participation only, but we hope to hold frequent Toss No Mas cleanup events in the future and eventually include municipalities and public volunteers. The event was incredibly successful.”
Nearly 30 District 2 DOT employees covered southeastern New Mexico, said Manon Arnett, District 2 spokesperson.
Workers picked up 3,000 pounds of trash along U.S. Highways 54 and 285 near Tularosa and Carlsbad.
“I think it really shows we have our work cut out for us and that community engagement is crucial to making an impact to see those numbers hopefully go down in the future,” said Keep Carlsbad Beautiful Executive Director Mary Garwood.
She was alarmed at the amount of trash collected in Carlsbad.
“I hate to see this number so high. As individuals, each one of us needs to take responsibility for our waste disposal processes and to make sure we are making the best choices possible,” Garwood said.
She said trash loads need cover when dropped off at the Sandpoint Landfill or convenience stations in Carlsbad and Eddy County.
“Bag our trash, (do) not throw litter items in the back of our trucks, and definitely don’t intentionally litter,” Garwood added.
DOT employees gathered nearly 2,500 pounds of trash on U.S. 54 near Vaughn and 1,000 pounds along U.S. Highways 380 and 70 near Tatum and Portales and 650 pounds of litter was bagged on U.S. 285 near Roswell, according to Arnett.
She said 5.7 tons of trash were placed in 446 garbage bags.
Sandoval said money spent collecting trash could have paid for pothole or guardrail repair across New Mexico.
Mike Smith can be reached at 575-628-5546 or by email at MSmith@currentargus.com or @ArgusMichae on Twitter.