By Nicholas Vercilla —
Tony Deangelo and Mindy Grego were working on picking up trash at an abandoned homeless encampment when they noticed that a combination of mice, rats and snakes were living underneath.
Angelo Pampena was at one point picking up litter on the side of the road when he noticed a water bottle filled with urine.
Those are some of the most unique litter finds the workers of Pennsylvania Department of Transportation deal with while picking up tons of litter each year.
“Litter is very important to us,” said Pampena, who serves as the Allegheny County Senior Maintenance Manager for PennDot. “It’s a continuous effort.”
Pampena says PennDOT workers encounter so much refuse, that most of his crew spend their days cleaning up litter once every two weeks from April through September.
A clean-up crew managed by Deangelo and Grego picked up 250 tires and filled two-dozen truck-loads of debris during 2015. He also says that his group fills 60-90 bags of litter a day, or about 8,000 a year.
“There were days when it was pouring down rain all day and we out picking trash,” said Deangelo.
Pampena says next to complaints about potholes, litter is the number one complaint that PennDOT receives every year. He said it spends between $1-$2 million annually on cleaning litter in Allegheny County alone.
Another popular program the PennDOT helps support is the Adopt-A-Highway Program. This program allows volunteer groups to clean up a stretch of a road four times a year. Anybody can sign up at adoptahighway.com.
Mike Grace is a member of a Adopt-A-Highway volunteer group that is comprised of PennDOT employees. He says that his group meets during the spring and summer every six to seven weeks in Bridgeville on Route 50 to pick up litter.
“It’s kind of depressing,” said Grace. “I just don’t like looking at it.”
Regardless of whether the problem of litter continues to get better or worse, the people of PennDOT continue to push for a cleaner and brighter future for the city.
“They do a great deed for the community,” said Grace.