Westbound lanes of State Route 94 were closed 11 hours on Saturday from Lemon Grove to San Diego for maintenance. Clean up efforts were limited during the pandemic and that has led to trash piling up on local roads.
“These freeways. They can become a mess. Everything from homeless encampments to liquor bottles, cigarettes. You name it and you’ll find it on the side of the freeway,” said Chris Williams, a volunteer with the Lemon Grove Improvement Council.
Volunteers work next to Caltrans crews to pick up all types of litter. This is the fourth weekend SR–94 that has been closed for maintenance. Volunteers with Lemon Grove Improvement Council say the trash problem got worse during the pandemic.
“During covid it got pretty bad. Caltrans crews couldn’t do what they do because some of the covid protocol. Some of the homeless encampments got really really bad and the trash was piling up,” said Williams.
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“Even if it’s a piece of paper or a cup, it all accumulates and adds up,” said Teresa Rosiak Proffit, a volunteer with the Lemon Grove Improvement Council.
Rosiak Proffit says jail inmates weren’t able to pick up trash during the pandemic and that also added to the pileup.
“We would get out once a month, but sometimes it would feel like we were out there for four hours and barely make a dent,” said Williams.
Caltrans says the maintenance work is consistent with the Clean California Initiative. Gov. Gavin Newsom says the initiative will invest $1.5 billion over the next three years to clean California’s transportation system.