By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s one of the few downfalls of spring — the snow melts and the garbage appears.

It’s visible in a lot of different places right now, especially in ditches and along roadways.

Ketchup packets, pop bottles and plastic bags are common sights, but this didn’t just come from people throwing trash out the window as they drive along the freeway.

More than a million pounds of garbage is collected every year along Minnesota highways. Litterbugs do play a role, sometimes unintentionally.

“I think a lot of it is littering, blowing off cars or trucks,” said Elizabeth Brady of St. Paul.

MNDOT sats when drivers don’t secure their truck loads, flying debris becomes a problem. But along highways close to neighborhoods, all it takes is one garbage can to get knocked over and the wind will do the rest- blowing trash right into a freeway fence where it’s covered by snow.

MNDOT takes care of major freeways like I-94 and 35-W. But a lot of work around the state — about 75 percent, in fact — is done by Adopt-A-Highway volunteers. They typically begin their cleanups in April.

“The sun is coming out, the snow is going away. It’d be nice to see some green grass instead of McDonald’s cups all over the floor,” said Mohamed Sheikh of Minneapolis.

Some of the pickup work this spring will be done by low-risk offenders as part of a Sentencing to Serve program.

But according to MNDOT, Adopt-A-Highway volunteers save them more than $7 million a year.


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