Wednesday, 05 January 2022 14:43

LAND: Richmond County roadside trash total neared 60 tons in 2021

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LAND: Richmond County roadside trash total neared 60 tons in 2021 RO file photo

ROCKINGHAM — Nearly 60 tons of litter were picked up from Richmond County roads in 2021, according to County Manager Bryan Land.

During his report to the Board of Commissioners Tuesday evening, Land said that county workers, along with the N.C. Department of Transportation, picked up 5,657 bags of garbage weighing in at 59.2 tons — and 73 tires  — over the past 12 months.

Land added that 23 illegal dump sites were investigated and 31 warnings and citations were issued, in addition to 27 burning investigations.

“It’s typical for roadside litter to increase during the holidays,” Land said.

And increase, it did, nearly doubling the previous month’s amount of 4.4 tons.

December had the second-most amount of trash collected in one month with 587 bags weighing about 8.1 tons, Land said. 

According to the solid waste report, county workers picked up 4.1 tons, netting 32 bags of trash on Wiregrass Road.

Other bag/road totals are:

  • 27 - Mill Road
  • 26 - U.S. 1N
  • 23 - Mizpah Road
  • 22 - Sandhills Road
  • 21 - Battley Dairy, County Home roads
  • 16 - Airport, Hatcher roads
  • 14 - Harrington, Old Cheraw roads
  • 11 - Lee Thee Church Road
  • 9 - Chalk, Rosalyn roads
  • 6 - Hall Road, Spring Drive
  • 5- Hannah Pickett Avenue
  • 4 - Church Street, Eason Drive

The NCDOT also cleaned up 4 tons with hundreds of bags from the following six roads:

  • 67 - U.S. 220
  • 64 - N.C. 177
  • 53 - U.S. 74 Bus.
  • 41 - U.S. 1S
  • 31 - N.C. 381
  • 29 - Galestown Road

Crews also found 28 tires while cleaning up: eight on Mizpah; six on Galestown; four each on Hall Road and N.C. 177; and three each on Church Street and Harrington Road.

The report shows that there were also three illegal dump sites reported and investigated, three garbage burning investigations, two warning notices issued and three garbage burning investigations.

The October total was 8.5 tons — the most of any month last year and more than the Earth Day effort and May amount combined.

The county’s roadside garbage totals do not include individual or group volunteer efforts.

The countywide Earth Day effort, led by Asst. Public Works Director Bryan Leggett and Aging Services Director Jacqueline Welch, saw 39 volunteer groups collect 404 bags of trash weighing 6,449 pounds (3.22 tons). The event was originally slated for April 24 but was pushed back to May 1 due to weather.

According to the April Solid Waste Report, 3.7 tons of litter were picked up ahead of the event and 3.5 tons were collected in May.

Employees of von Drehle filled the bed of a small pickup truck three times in February during a cleaning near the plant; members of Richmond Early College High School’s Eco Club picked up several bags of trash on Wiregrass Road in March; and volunteers from Place of Grace Campus cleaned up around East Rockingham in April.

Land has, on multiple occasions, referred to the county’s trash problem as an “epidemic.”

Littering is not just a problem in Richmond County, but across the state.

NCDOT reported Nov. 17 that more than 12 million pounds (6,000 tons) of roadside trash had been picked up in North Carolina, setting a new state record. The previous record was set in 2019 with 10.5 million pounds (5,250 tons). That statistic has not yet been updated.

The 2021 Litter Report from NCDOT, which doesn’t appear to have been updated since September, shows that Division 8 (comprised of Chatham, Hoke, Lee, Montgomery, Moore, Randolph, Richmond and Scotland counties) was the fifth-cleanest — by pounds of litter collected — of the 14 divisions, with state clean-up costs running up a $661,339.80 tab.

Division 2 (Beaufort, Carteret, Craven, Greene, Jones, Lenoir, Pamlico and Pitt counties) was the cleanest and Division 9 (Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Rowan and Stokes counties) was the worst.

At the time the report was last updated, the state had spent $13.23 million in clean-up efforts, funds NCDOT says “could be used to fix potholes, build bridges and improve our transportation system.”

The department promoted both its Spring and Fall Litter Sweep programs, created an app to report litter bugs, and enlisted the help of country singer and North Carolina native Luke Combs to record an anti-littering public service announcement.

Leggett previously told the RO there were three local participants in the Fall Litter Sweep, fewer than the spring cleaning.