JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The roadways in South Mississippi received a spring cleaning Thursday, thanks to hundreds of highway department volunteers who took part in the 24th annual Trash Bash. More than 100 miles along six major highways in Jackson and George counties were scoured clean.
Tracy Gillespie, an MDOT volunteer, described finding, "Fast food papers, cups, cigarette packs, shoes that come off of boats, just trash like that."
Getting a handle on trash is expensive, according to Ashlyn Brock, the MDOT litter program coordinator.
"We're spending close to $3.5 million a year statewide picking up litter. That's money that could definitely be used on roads and bridges elsewhere," Brock said.
Even Southern District Transportation Commissioner Tom King pitched in.
"From the top down it sends a signal and sends a message and tells you how I feel about the litter problem we have in Mississippi. And all of us working together, we can clean this state up," King proclaimed.
Office workers at MDOT also lend a helping hand. One of them was Mariette Douglas.
"I get some fresh air, pick up trash, enjoy the company, and make sure that everyone has a safe place to drive," Douglas said.
They say in tourism circles, you only get one chance to make a first impression, and it had better be a good one. Trash on the highway is not good."
Just ask Dale and Lila Fox, visiting the coast from Kansas. "That's where you pass right on through, and just keep going. You don't stop to visit if it's trashy looking around," Dale explained.
Even locals like Jeremy McCauley, working along Highway 609 agree with that. "It's very important. That way, it will look better for the tourists and they'll want to come back more."
During last year's Trash Bash, more than 700 bags of garbage were collected. MDOT officials say they expect at least that many this year.