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Briella TomassettiApr 23, 2018, 11:48 pm

NYSDOT: Drivers litter Long Island roadways more than any other place in the state

Volunteers go out in full force to clean up garbage that causes road hazards

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PLAINVIEW — The New York State Department of Transportation is doing its part to make the roads cleaner and safer for drivers as part of an annual "trash blitz" that coincides with Earth Day.

The NYSDOT picks up more trash on the sides of Long Island highways than any other region in the entire state, spending more than $6 million to clean up the roads every year.

"Just alone, during this trash blitz, over the last week we've collected about 18 tons of garbage, trash, and debris," said Joe Brown, Long Island regional director of NYSDOT.

The spring cleanup started at the beginning of last week and hundreds of volunteers have come out to help.

The NYSDOT has been stationed with trucks and workers at every major parkway, highway, and road across both Nassau and Suffolk counties.

"Our crews are very good at it. They spend more time actually cleaning the sides of the roadway than plowing snow and fixing potholes, unfortunately. So, it's part of the reason we want to draw more attention to it," Brown said.

The department has found items as small as water bottles and as large as household appliances on the roadside.

The litter isn't just an environmental hazard but is a major safety issue as well. The debris acts an obstacle for drivers on the roadway and the crews cleaning it up are also put in harm's way. In some cases, the garbage can even clog catch basins and lead to flooding.

“I want to encourage people to keep the bags in their cars, cigarette butts in their cars, find a place to drop them off. Every time they throw something out, it's costing taxpayers’ money cleaning it up," Brown said.

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