CalTrans Considering Freeway Closures Due to PPE Litter on Highways

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The pandemic is causing problems on our freeways and no, it's not because of traffic. On Sunday morning, southbound lanes on State Route 163 from Interstate 8 were closed.

Caltrans officials said litter of personal protective equipment has increased all over the highways since the pandemic hit.

“Litter has become a systemic problem throughout the state of California and it is really pervasive in San Diego,” Shawn Rizzutto, division chief for maintenance in district 11, which covers San Diego and Imperial Counties.

"We’ve noticed a significant increase in the amount of litter that’s being deposited on our roadways throughout San Diego County," Rizzutto said.

That includes a lot of single-use plastics like gloves and masks. Officials said they are considering full freeway closures during the daytime elsewhere in the county just for litter removal.

“We wanna provide for the safety of our employees and working next to live traffic is a very hazardous state to be working in,” Rizzuto said. 

Officials say when it rains, the littered PPE gets washed into drainage facilities which get plugged up, making it a difficult clean-up.

“I want to make a plea to the public: please take care of your own litter and don’t deposit litter on our freeways, keep our city beautiful. Let’s have pride in our community,” Rizzutto said.

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