For the past three years, cleaning up litter from New Jersey's roadways has been a top priority of the Department of Transportation, but when Sandy hit, crews were needed elsewhere. Now that most of their Sandy duties are completed, they can refocus on litter clean up along the state's highways.

Flickr User Familymwr
Flickr User Familymwr

"Graffiti and litter are detrimental to the state. It tells people the state doesn't care and that we're not open for business. In some areas, New Jersey was starting to look like the South Bronx in the 1980s before that area was cleaned up and made a turn around, so we decided to make it a priority because those are the kinds of things businesses see when they want to relocate," said Jim Simpson, Department of Transportation Commissioner. "Last summer, we had the cleanest roads New Jersey has had since before litter became a problem. But, with Sandy hitting us, all of our personnel who would be involved in such a detail have been committed to the rebuilding effort."

Now that DOT workers contribution to the Sandy operation is winding down, they can get back to the quality of life aspects of their jobs which include picking up litter, removing graffiti and cutting grass alongside the roadways.

"We've got a lot of litter, so we've got a lot of cleaning up to do," said Simpson. "We have 120 inmates who help us as well."

Clean up efforts will focus on entryways into the state.

"Any area where someone would come into New Jersey from another state is always a priority because the first thing we want is a positive experience for anyone entering the state," said Simpson. "Trying to keep all of the highways clear of litter and graffiti is very important and something we try to do all the time because if you stop picking up litter for a while, the place starts to look really filthy. Right now, there are several areas that don't look good."

Simpson also is urging the motoring public to use garbage cans and stop throwing litter into the roadways.

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