ST. LOUIS – A smelly, unsightly safety issue along Interstate 70 is driving complaints from those behind the wheel. As the Missouri Department of Transportation explains, a bad trash problem is only getting worse.

If you’ve driven along I-70 recently and noticed growing heaps of trash, you’re not alone.

“We’re not happy about those conditions, either,” said MoDOT District Maintenance Engineer Bob Becker. “We don’t like the way it looks.”

With limited crews and demand for pothole work, Becker says they’re playing a catch-up game and they’re currently losing.

“We haven’t been getting out in front of picking trash for the last month or so, because we had winter operations, and we jumped right into potholes. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for us to pick up trash,” Becker said.

“So, our community service people, they don’t get out when the weather’s bad either, so that just makes it even worse and compounds everything that’s going on.”

With fewer volunteers and inmates braving the cold, the burden falls on MoDOT contractors, but that’s only monthly, making way for a potentially dangerous accumulation of garbage.

“Especially when it’s out in the road, and you’re like, ‘If I stop here, I’m in danger trying to do it,’ but you’re always afraid that somebody’s going to swerve to go around it and cause an accident,” driver Dennis Doney said.

While most of the trash you see on the highways are garbage thrown out by people in their cars, time and time again, it’s the bigger-sized trash like spare tires dotting the highways that have made it hard to clean up fast.

“It will get better. But this is typically the worst time of the year for it,” Becker said.

Complaints from drivers are piling up.

“People passing through know this is Missouri and this represents me,” driver Dora Washington said. “We need to prioritize cleanliness and sanitation, and that we don’t have to sacrifice one for the other because we still pay taxes.”

MoDOT is encouraging people to pitch in and help, but, most importantly, stop littering.


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