Section 2: Litter

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General Policy

Litter is defined as trash and/or garbage, including but not limited to scrap metals, rags, paper, wood, plastic, glass and rubber products including tires that are discarded onto the right of way.

TxDOT's litter pickup and disposal policy is based on the need to provide a safe and attractive right of way for the traveling public. To meet this need, all litter on the right of way should be removed promptly and be disposed of at a state-approved solid waste site. Potentially hazardous items in the roadways should be removed as soon as possible.

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Items Found on the Right of Way

Any items of value that are picked up by state forces when working on the right of way should be brought to the district warehouse for disposal through proper established procedures, as outlined in the General Services Division's Manual of Procedures. Reasonable judgment should be used to establish what items are of value.

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Litter Inside City Limits

Within a city's limit, the city is responsible for litter pickup on designated state highways except for controlled access highways, where the department is responsible for litter pickup. The department may assist the city when requested by the city if state resources are available. The department's responsibility is defined in the Municipal Maintenance Agreement.

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Animal Remains

The remains of animals should be removed promptly from the roadway and disposed of properly. In rural areas, dead animals found on the right of way can be buried on the roadside, away from any adjacent homes. Care should be taken when digging along the right of way to avoid hitting underground utilities. In the event that the dead animal is a cow or horse, a by-products or rendering company should be called, if possible, to pick up the animal. Proper care should be taken to protect the health of personnel handling dead animals.

In urban areas, the dead animals should be taken to an approved sanitary landfill or municipal solid waste facility. If this is not practical, the animals should be moved to a rural section of right of way and disposed of properly. Department employees are urged to be sensitive to the feelings of pet owners.

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Litter Barrels

Place litter barrels at safety rest areas and picnic areas where traffic can stop safely. They should be emptied regularly and replaced when they become rusty, worn, bent, or unsightly. Plastic liners should be used.

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Solid Waste Disposal

Litter and other solid waste picked up from roadside parks, litter barrels and highway rights of way should be disposed of in sanitary land fills or other disposal facilities which are operated in compliance with State Department of Health regulations.

Should disposal of household or other refuse (solid waste) become a serious problem at any location along the right of way the following options are available which may assist in alleviating this condition.

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  • If the identity of the offender can be determined through addresses on envelopes, etc. write a letter pointing out the litter barrel is to be used by highway travelers.
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  • Bring the matter to the attention of the appropriate county official (county attorney, county health officer or commissioners).
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  • Request assistance from the Maintenance Division.

Good judgment should be used when handling these matters to prevent adverse publicity or criticism of the department.

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Sanitary Landfill Operations

Applications for operation of sanitary landfills near a highway rights of way and a notice of proposed public hearings are generally submitted by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to the Maintenance Division for review. The Maintenance Division may request assistance from the districts to complete this review.

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Adopt-A-Highway Program

The Adopt-A-Highway Program was established to create public involvement in keeping Texas highways free of litter. Volunteers from civic organizations, non-profit organizations, commercial and other private enterprises are permitted to "adopt" a highway for purposes of litter control and receive recognition for their participation. Information about this program may be obtained from the Travel Division. Information regarding the sign details may be found in the Traffic Operations Manual, Signs and Marking Volume.

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