Mill Valley woman crusades for trash-free highway
Author: Mark Prado
Publication: Marin Independent Journal
A Mill Valley woman is on a campaign to get plastic bags, cans, fast-food wrappers and other trash — some of which ends up in the bay — off Highway 101.
Vicky Dehnert, co-founder of Marin Clean Highways, is asking Caltrans to step up its game.
“There is a lot of junk on the freeway and it can get into the bay,” Dehnert said. “Let’s get serious about this. Litter is the No. 1 complaint I hear about the freeway.”
Caltrans has been in violation of clean-water requirements for several years and has yet to provide a plan for preventing trash from polluting the bay, Dehnert alleges.
She is trying to enlist the backing of Marin municipalities to get her message across. Last week the Sausalito City Council agreed to send a letter to the state Regional Water Quality Control Board to urge Caltrans to act.
“Litter on Bay Area freeways and state roads continues to pile up, blow and flow through storm drains into creeks and San Francisco Bay, where it poisons fish and wildlife, smothers wetland habitat, and defaces the shoreline,” reads the Sausalito letter. “Once trash from state roads enters a storm drain or creek, the cost to remove it shifts from Caltrans to local jurisdictions already striving to meet their own trash reduction requirements. This is of particular concern to Sausalito, where Highway 101 crosses over multiple paths of runoff with geographically limited areas of buffer or retention before reaching the bay; further exacerbated by consistently high-level winds sweeping over the highway into our community.”
Sausalito Mayor Joan Cox said her city takes the issue seriously.
“Clean streets and highways is important to our community,” she said. “It’s something we are graded on as a city.”
Caltrans officials didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment late last week.
Last fall, environmentalists held a Marin “Trash Summit” to address litter, garbage and debris plaguing the county and wastewater runoff that seeps into the bay. Caltrans officials attended, but got event organizers to agree trash wouldn’t be the session’s focus.
The issue is not limited to Marin. The group Save the Bay has also been focusing on the subject, enlisting support from other Bay Area residents to address freeway garbage in their communities while calling for Caltrans to install trash capture devices.
Dehnert does give Caltrans credit for doing a better job recently cleaning Highway 101 in Marin.
“They are trying,” she said, adding the agency picks up trash quarterly. “But they don’t have enough manpower.”
Southern Marin in particular is a tricky trash cleanup area because there are virtually no shoulders from the Golden Gate Bridge north to southern San Rafael.
“Caltrans has toughened up safety requirements as far as adopt-a-highway programs,” she said. “It’s not safe to pick up garbage in those areas.”
So that means service clubs can’t do any of the clean up work as they do in other parts of the county, leaving a large area to Caltrans. The county’s Department of Public Works has taken an interest in the topic, Dehnert said, and is working on pushing the issue along.
“We just want to clean up the environment,” she said.
To read original article posting, click here:http://www.marinij.com/environment-and-nature/20180722/mill-valley-woman-crusades-for-trash-free-highway