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Hey, Matt:

If you've driven along 52 between 5 and Regents Road over the last half year, you've noticed that it is a dump. Every imaginable form of debris short of corpses decorates the shoulders. A sign says proudly that the stretch of road was adopted by Team Chodorow, whatever that is. So what does that mean, that these Teamsters are sittin' around Krispy Kreme when they're supposed to be dive-bombing the roadsides? Just how does that Adopt-a-Highway program not work?

-- John Mann, the net

Hey Matt:

I'd like your opinion. While caught in rush hour traffic, I sometimes eat a banana for breakfast while I creep along. When I'm done, I usually toss the banana peel out the window. Is this wrong? I've gotten a couple of "shame on you" looks, but I mean, I don't think anything is more biodegradable than that. Same with apple cores. If you throw these items on your seat, they'll leave stains, marks, etc. It's not like paper products that you can wad up and throw out later. I would never litter on purpose, or would I….

-- Don, San Diego

Sorry, John. No dissing Team Chodorow. They signed up for a two-year hitch when they agreed to the Adopt-a-Highway program. Which means that twice a month they either walk a mile stretch of highway and pick up the junk people fling out the window or they hire a company to do it for them. It could be that their obligation is over and the sign hasn't come down yet. Caltrans admits they try to remove them in a timely manner, but that task is pretty low priority. If the team is just a bunch of slackers, Caltrans will call them and poke 'em in the butt to get out there and clean.

It happens that 52 has a special problem. The landfill. According to Caltrans, 52 is a particularly trashy stretch because of all the garbage trucks that end up there. So I say hats off to Team Chodorow, a community-spirited group willing to put their lives on the line on the freeway shoulder to pick up old beer cans and fast-food wrappers and the flying detritus from trash trucks. Or at least willing to pay someone to do it for them. And Adopt-a-Highway is now trying to have the roads near landfills double-adopted so cleaning is done twice as often.

Don, Don, Don…. How about doing some penance for all that jetsam you're tossing around. Assemble your own Adopt-a-Highway group and dig in. Call the local coordinator, Dean Burns, at 858-616-6566. Throwing a banana peel on asphalt isn't an A felony; but, hey, if you pack it in, pack it out. How hard would it be to carry a small trash bag in your car for the pits and cores? Biodegradable has nothing to do with it, as you've noted from the dirty looks. It's more a matter of civility. Well, you asked for my opinion. Big mistake, big mistake.

Talking Trash, Part II

Conisder this follow-up from Adopt-a-Highway's Richard Carpenter. To paraphrase Pogo, we have met the enemy, and he is us, and we is pigs.

This section [of 52]…is littered so fast it never looks clean. We have been cleaning this section for Team Chodorow for the past 30 months. On average we get 16 40-pound bags of trash each month. So far [Team Chodorow] has removed about 10 tons of trash from this small section. After your article, [Team Chodorow requested and paid for] a crew to clean the section a third time for the month of June. They got five bags, plus a dune buggy frame somebody just happened to leave by the roadside.

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