Crews pick up 24,480 pounds of litter on SR 512 around Puyallup

PUYALLUP, Wash. — Two state agencies joined forces to remove thousands of pounds trash on the median of State Route 512 in Puyallup.

The Washington State Department of Transportation’s  Adopt-a-Highway program and partnerships with the Department of Ecology, Department of Corrections and communities help remove roadside litter, but the median of SR 512 is difficult to keep clean because of its design and size, and the only way to pick up trash safely is to close the left lanes, according to a WSDOT blog post.

Over a two-week period around Earth Day, the WSDOT did just that and teamed up with the state Department of Ecology to remove litter on the median. Whenever a lane on SR 512 is closed by a crash or roadwork, major backups occur, but the work wasn’t done at night because much of the highway has no overhead lighting, and daylight hours are safer and allow crews to pick up more litter.

So on the seven days that crews removed trash, the left lanes were closed so that crews had a larger work zone, while an average of 100,000 vehicles a day drove past at 60 mph.

While the morning and early afternoon closures caused major traffic headaches for drivers, WSDOT believes the effort was well worth it. At the end of the first week, 10,000 pounds of trash was taken to the landfill. At the end of the second week, another 14,480 pounds were removed, for a total of 24,480 pounds.

WSDOT has plans to remove litter from the State Route 410 median in Sumner. Similar left lane closures will occur during the cleanups.