More than 800 tons of trash found on Maricopa County freeways, a 47% increase since 2017

Debris collected off I-10. (Arizona Dept. of Transportation)

The Arizona Department of Transportation says maintenance crews picked up more than 118,000 trash bags of litter along Maricopa County freeways in 2021 - a 47% increase since 2017.

Officials say workers clean around 250 miles of the freeway system every week, but the amount of litter has continued to steadily increase.

"In 2017, ADOT picked up 80,442 bags of litter compared to the nearly 119,000 bags last year," officials said in a statement on Feb. 8.

In total, crews collected 118,578 bags filled with more than 800 tons of garbage.

ADOT officials say this large amount of waste can create safety issues. Trash can block stormwater drainage grates, which can cause standing water to build up in low-lying areas on freeways.

Litter can also negatively affect pumps that work to remove storm runoff, officials said.

"Drivers can help out by simply not littering," said Mary Currie, manager of ADOT’s Adopt a Highway programs in a statement. "Don’t toss that burger wrapper, paper cup or cigarette butt out of the window. All of those seemingly small and insignificant items build up over time creating safety issues."

ADOT is also reminding drivers to secure their loads while driving - workers respond to an average of 26 calls a week for debris blocking the freeway, according to officials.

ADOT's Litter Hotline: or call 877-354-8837 (887-3LITTER)

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