If you drive Golden State Highway soon, you might forget you're in Bakersfield. That's because it's clean! After many people complained to 17 News about litter on local highways, Caltrans is responding and cleaning it up.
Weeds, dirt, and trash were scraped off Golden State Highway on Wednesday. Piling up for months, it's now coming up after comments like these about Bakersfield freeways.
"It's embarrassing," said driver Jeanne Schamblin. "You drive along the freeways, you see all of these tumbleweeds and weeds and trash. It's embarrassing."
Caltrans is trying to get rid of that embarrassment by scooping up heaps of garbage on State Route 204 and leaving it clean and free of weeds and trash, living up to its "Golden State" name.
"We're doing this in an effort to address some of the complaints that we've been getting about the trash and debris on the roadsides," explained Ed Offerding with Caltrans.
"Oh good, finally," said Rosie Guerra-Martinez, a driver, of the cleanup effort. "We, as a community, need to pound a little louder on the desk and say hey, hey, hey, don't ignore this area."
17 News did some of that pounding last month, taking viewer complaints about the mounting messes, seeming to go untouched, to Caltrans.
Since then, our cameras have caught crews tidying up a portion of Highway 99.
Wednesday afternoon, we found a crew prepping a piece of Highway 58's median. They were cutting down tumbleweeds to begin the next phase of cleanup.
But, the main focus Wednesday was tackling Golden State Highway.
"It's been neglected for a little while," said Offerding. "But, typically this stuff accumulates. People throw their trash out of their cars, and it doesn't have any place to go. It just gets caught up on the shoulders. So, that's why we are out here."
"I am extremely happy about that because I take pride in my city," said driver, Guerra-Martinez of the cleanup.
Caltrans says this cleanup takes a crew of eight away from other maintenance projects on roads, signs, and fences. But, if the public's priority is litter removal their crews will be lining our roads, instead of trash.
"It takes a lot of our personnel to come and clean up, you know, after people," said Offerding. "Yeah, you'll be seeing a lot of us."
You know the saying, "It hurts to be beautiful." Some morning commuters and the lunchtime crowd experienced that due to lane closures. Caltrans says it will try to warn drivers in advance as they continue to clean up our roads.
And, they remind drivers and businesses, there are highways up for adoption now so you can help in the cleanup effort.