Litter Pickup

Every spring when the snow melts, we are again reminded of what lies along most of our roads, especially our rural gravel roads: litter.

So, who is responsible for cleaning up the trash? Obviously, since the litter is near the road, it should be the concern of the road agency, right? Maybe, but is it worth pulling someone off a grader to pick up litter so that gravel roads do not get graded as often? Each year, about six months in advance of the beginning of the new year, the various departments of the Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) put together their work programs. After deducting vacation time, holidays and estimated sick days, the remaining available work days for the crew are then allocated among such things as gravel road grading, pothole filling, shoulder maintenance, drainage work and so on, based on identified needs.

Generally, more of all of that type of work is needed than can be done with the staff available. If something else is added, such as litter pickup, even less of that much-needed work gets done. The results of not doing it can be decreased safety and more accidents, a more rapid deterioration of roads and greater wear and tear on the public's cars from riding on rougher roads.

What You Can Do

Given those consequences, which would you choose to do? Litter pickup is a very labor-intensive activity. One suggestion that often comes up is that the road agencies should use those individuals currently occupying space in our local jails to do the work (free labor).

Actually, that was tried a few years ago, and it didn't work out very well. You may occasionally see some litter pickup along the state highways because the state pays the Road Commission to do it, but they don't pay much. The state has also used kids from the governor's summer work program for disadvantaged youths, but problems exist here also.

Another way the Road Commission is attempting to keep the road sides clean is through the Adopt-A-Road program. Through this program, groups volunteer to periodically clean up specific sections of roadway.

More Information

For more information or to volunteer for the Adopt-A-Road program, call the RCOC Permits Division at 248-858-4891. The ultimate solution, of course, is to get people to stop dumping and littering.