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DOT crews to clean up litter along Interstate 85

LAWRENCEVILLE - The temperature may have dipped well below 70 degrees, but spring is still in the air. And that means it's time for spring cleaning.

This week, the Georgia Department of Transportation will be out to clean up the roadside in its annual March maintenance campaign.

"It is discouraging that we have to pull our people from their regular duties to pick up trash, and it's not just a little trash," DOT District Engineer Russell McMurry said. "Last year our people collected almost 17,000 bags of garbage in our 21 counties during the spring cleanup."

The effort will begin along Interstate 85 in Gwinnett on Monday morning.

"This is an expense we shouldn't have, a job we shouldn't even have to do," McMurry said. "If people would only be responsible for their own trash and dispose of it responsibly, we could focus on our jobs. Please be careful as you see DOT personnel out in the medians and along the shoulder of the roads as they clean up after you during the last week of March."

The DOT makes efforts year-round to clean up the highways, including litter programs, wildflower plantings and Adopt-a-Highway efforts, officials said. Each year, it costs the state $14 million to clean up litter.

"Not only is it costly, but litter poses a real threat to our state's environment and beauty and safe and healthy living conditions for our neighborhoods," DOT Deputy Commissioner Larry Dent said. "Our litter pickup expenses rise about 20 percent each year."