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OPINION | DRIVETIME MAHATMA: You can help Arkansas take out the trash

by Frank Fellone | May 21, 2022 at 3:36 a.m.

Dear Mahatma: On Interstate 530 recently, I saw people picking up trash before the mowers. Just south of the I-530/Interstate 30 split, the "Watch for Mowers" signs were up and there were bags of trash about every 200 feet. Excellent! They're not actually mowing the trash. ArDot shows sense. -- Legal Expert

Dear Legal: Serendipity sometimes plays a role. As it did here.

Sources deep within the Arkansas Department of Transportation said the trash pickup was by one of the many -- more than 2,500 since 1987 -- organizations that adopt a highway and keep it clean.

Those organizations are free to pick their times to, um, pick up. Private contractors also set their own schedules for mowing, usually two or three times a year. The two activities aren't coordinated.

For all the good work done by good people, ArDot said it spent $4.3 million in fiscal year 2020 to pick up 46,854 cubic yards of litter. It didn't identify the poor guy with the tape measure who had to figure out that volume.

Yes, Virginia, that was a joke.

Want to adopt a highway? Go to and read all about it.

Dear Sir: This weekend I traveled Interstate 40 from Little Rock to Forrest City and was appalled at the trash, mainly tire pieces, that litter the sides of the highway. Not recently deposited trash either. Most had been there a considerable time. I am embarrassed this represents our state to visitors. We taxpayers deserve better and have raised our taxes several times to pay for better roads. Wouldn't it be great if ArDOT posted signs with their phone number on them along the roads? -- Concerned in Conway.

Dear Conway: Where to start?

Like you, we are appalled at the litter, and place the blame squarely on trashy people. May deer ticks infest their shorts.

Like you, we are embarrassed for our visitors, but stipulate that having traveled nearly from sea to shining sea, there's plenty of trash everywhere.

How much is enough? The Arkansas Department of Transportation told us it spent $4.3 million in Fiscal Year 2020 on picking up trash. This is in addition to the thousands of people who spent tens of thousands of hours picking up trash under the Adopt-a-Highway program.

Also, there is the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission, whose mission is to motivate people to not be trashy and to pick up trash.

The real solution? Unfortunately, putting people in stocks went out with the Puritans.

We often think disparagingly of the Puritans. Can we be wrong?

One more thought. Chunks of tires that come off big rigs are called gators. People should not try to pull them off the highway. Instead, call the local ArDot office, whose workers know how to take care of gators without getting run over.

How to find that number? Use that fancy smart phone.

VANITY PLATE IN RUSSELLVILLE: FARMGRL. Hey, Farm Girl, please check in. You have a story to tell, and we're curious.

Print Headline: Aghast at road litter? Volunteer


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