Highway workers and volunteers remove litter along Highway 101 in Greenfield on July 7. (Contributed Photo)

CENTRAL COAST — Caltrans workers, county officials and Adopt-A-Highway volunteers recently helped clear litter and beautify several sections of Central Coast highways, including Highway 101 in Greenfield, State Route 135 in Santa Maria and Highway 101 at Fourth Street in Pismo Beach.

As part of the statewide day of action on July 7 to highlight the new Clean California program, Caltrans and its local partners picked up litter on highways while encouraging the public to do its part to keep communities clean and beautiful.

“The Clean California initiative confronts one of the most persistent challenges in the state — litter on our state highways and local roads,” said Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin. “The $1 billion, multi-year cleanup effort will remove roadway trash, create thousands of jobs and engage communities in beautification efforts to transform our roadsides into places of pride.”

In Greenfield, Monterey County District 3 Supervisor Chris Lopez, Transportation Agency for Monterey County Executive Director Debbie Hale and representatives from State Assemblyman Robert Rivas joined Caltrans maintenance crews to pick up litter along southbound Highway 101.

“I was excited to be able to thank the amazing crew from Caltrans District 5 in person,” Lopez said afterward on social media. “As we know, the work along our freeways never ends. I want to thank Assemblyman Rivas for being solution oriented and proactive in helping keep our region’s freeways clean and promoting food safety.”

Clean California is estimated to generate 10,000 to 11,000 jobs over three years, including opportunities for residents experiencing homelessness, at-risk youth and those re-entering society following incarceration. The initiative represents a significant investment in litter collection and community engagement to transform unsightly roadsides into spaces of pride for all Californians.

This statewide effort includes potential projects in all 58 California counties, with nearly a third of the funds being directly invested into cities, counties, tribes and transit agencies to clean local streets and public spaces. Through litter removal, the initiative will protect local waterways, natural resources, public safety and health.

“Our hard-working crews, local partners and volunteers were called to action today in this important effort to clean and beautify the Golden State,” said Caltrans District 5 Director Tim Gubbins.

Clean California will also help drive a cultural shift of shared responsibility for the cleanliness of local roadways through litter prevention education campaigns that focus on properly throwing away trash and the impact littering has on natural resources, waterways, public safety and health.

Caltrans collected about 270,000 cubic yards of trash in 2020 — enough to load 18,000 garbage trucks. Clean California will remove an additional 1.2 million cubic yards, or 21,000 tons, of trash from state highways each year, the equivalent of filling the Rose Bowl three times or enough bags to stretch from Los Angeles to New York City.

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Ryan Cronk is the managing editor for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for South Monterey County and the surrounding communities.


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