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      ODOT litter pick up effort underway

      Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) crews will once again hit the highways this April to address one of the department's most persistent and preventable problems, litter.

      "Taxpayers are on the hook for $4 million every year for litter cleanup," said ODOT Director Jerry Wray. "That money could be used to pave roads, buy snowplow trucks or install guardrail or culverts."

      In 2012, ODOT picked up 305,000 bags of litter statewide.

      In Lucas and Wood counties, ODOT crews picked up nearly 18,000 bags of trash at a cost of $148,000.

      Fortunately, ODOT does get aid from local volunteer groups, such as universities and its Adopt-A-Highway program that pick up litter in conjunction with the "Great American Cleanup."

      Organized nationally by Keep America Beautiful, the "Great American Cleanup" is the country's largest community improvement program, involving an estimated 3 million volunteers.

      ODOT's Adopt-A-Highway program has nearly 1,400 groups - with at least one group in each county - who have adopted a two-mile section or an interchange along the state highway system, picking up litter and debris a minimum of four times each year.

      On average, Adopt-A-Highway volunteers pick up 25,000 bags of trash, saving the department $280,000 annually.

      Groups interested in the Adopt-A-Highway program can go online to www.dot.state.oh.us and look for the Adopt-a-Highway icon.