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Highway Volunteers Fight ‘Litter Bloom’

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EDINA, Minn. (WCCO) – On the first beautiful spring morning of the year, Charlie Weigel and his son Carl picked up trash along Highway 100 between Highway 62 and Benton Boulevard.

“Golf balls, four milk carton, some pieces of a car that I don’t know where that come from,” Carl said.

They were part of a crew of 18 – all members of the Edina Morningside Rotary Club – who picked for two hours this morning. Even Edina Mayor Jim Hovland joined in.

“If we don’t do it, who will?” Weigel said. “You’ve got to set an example and hopefully people will want to get out and do it as well.”

There are 450 Adopt-A-Highway crews in the area. MnDOT Attractive Roadside Superintendent Dewayne Jones says his department relies on them once the snow melts and the trash is uncovered – a time of year they refer to as “the litter bloom.”

“It gets into our lakes and streams and drainage and it just causes problems,” Jones said. “It’s also an eyesore.”

Jones hears all of the daily complaints about the roads that come in this time of year. He says MnDOT’s top priorities are safety, road conditions and making sure people can get around.

So, when it comes to clean-up, MnDOT needs help from Adopt-A-Highway crews and county crew of people who are working instead of people serving jail time or paying off fines.

“We rely on our partners to do some of this less-skilled work, so we get it done in a timely fashion,” he said.

Those crews don’t pick up litter on major highways like 35W, 35E or 94 for safety reason. Instead, MnDOT will pick up with trash along those routes.

But after a long winter with snow-covered grounds, volunteer crews will be out starting this weekend.

“Just a couple hours here and there can make a difference,” Charlie said. “It gives you a different mindset for how you think about the community.”

MnDOT is always looking for new Adopt-A-Highway groups. Click here for more information on how to sign up.

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