Next Question: What's up with the trash on Denver highways?

Residents are not happy about all the trash on Colorado highways.

DENVER - Next Question: What's up with all of the trash on the shoulders of the highways around Denver? Who is responsible for cleaning up all of it?

Several people reached out to Next with Kyle Clark with that question.

 

The Colorado Department of Transportation told us it's them. In fact, 10 percent of CDOT's maintenance budget is used for debris cleanup, according to the organization's spokeswoman, Stacia Sellers. That's about $3 million.

"We are out there every day doing a daily inspection," Sellers said. "It's a five-person debris crew that goes out every single day and they monitor for any trash or debris cleanup."

Except they're not looking for just any trash, mostly just the stuff that can do some real damage. So, if steel, a pipe or anything that can be dangerous to drivers are actually on the road, CDOT crews treat that as a priority, according to Sellers.

To pick up the smaller bits of trash, CDOT has a contract with the Colorado Correctional Industry.

"This is inmates coming out to the side of the roadway," Sellers said. "So, in the grassy areas, they're picking up the trash, they're putting it into trash bags and putting it along the shoulder so debris crews can come back and pick it up."

They also rely on Adopt-A-Highway groups to help keep areas clean, but they're only required to actually clean the stretch of the highways that they're responsible for four times a year.

RELATED: Next Question: What does it take to adopt a highway?

And maybe you've seen signs that warn you of an expensive fine if you're caught littering. Jonathan Wienberg did. However, he also noticed there was still a lot of, well, litter around it. So, naturally, he tweeted us about it.

OK, maybe the sign wasn't enough to stop people from throwing trash in that spot, but the sign Wienberg is talking about -- the one that threatens a $1,000 fine -- that's a real threat if law enforcement catches you in the act. Unfortunately, Denver Police said that's not an easy thing to do. It's all about being in the right place at the right time. So far, in 2017, police have only been in contact 27 times with people who littered throughout the city -- and those people might not have even gotten a ticket.

But if we're being honest, the responsibility shouldn't lie with anyone to clean up the mess. It should lie with all of us -- to not be disrespectful and throw our trash anywhere but in a trash can. So, maybe you don't litter, but if you see someone who does then be cool and tell them littering is for losers.

Have a question you'd like Next to answer? Email us at next@9news.com or use #HeyNext. 

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