Highway debris hampers safe driving - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Highway debris hampers safe driving

By Christian Jennings - bio | email

ALBANY,  GA (WALB) –   If you've driven on Interstate-75 lately you've probably noticed tire debris on your lane, trash, or maybe even overgrown grass on the side of the road. It's a problem that the Georgia Department of Transportation says they want to solve, but simply don't' have the funding or manpower to do so.

As soon as drivers get on 75 in Tifton they won't drive five hundred feet without seeing some tire trash either in their travel lane, or in the emergency lane. Drivers say it's both unsightly and dangerous.

People who often drive on I-75 say they are sick of seeing miles and miles tire trash. It's not only an unsightly problem, it's dangerous. "We're leaving on vacation," said Carolyn Kokinda, who already had a run in with debris on her trip to Florida from Atlanta.

"I was driving and hit a piece of rubber. It flew up on my windshield."

John Vandemark also noticed the black litter lining the interstate on his trip from Florida to Griffin, Georgia. "When it's in the road you don't know where to go. Someone has to swerve or you have to swerve. It's a life-threatening situation."

DOT spokesperson Craig Solomon says they recognize the problem, but simply don't have the manpower to fix it. "It's frustrating, we are always getting calls from people asking us why we aren't out picking up the tires, why we aren't cutting the grass. And I have to tell them we are under funded and don't have the manpower."

WALB News 10 drove up and down I-75 in Tifton to check out the situation first-hand. And sure enough we spotted miles of tire trash, some pieces were more than 7 feet long.  "They need to take care of it. It's a hazard. It's not a mattress or furniture but still a hazard," a driver said.

The Department of Transportation says they agree. But with constant funding cuts and hundreds of unfilled positions, the task is daunting.

That's why they're working on a possible solution. "We're working with the Georgia Prison system to use more prisoners on the roads in the future," said Solomon.

In the meantime Carolyn Kokinda will just have to stay more alert. 

Again the problem is manpower. In the past 22 years the DOT has actually gained almost 5,000 miles of road that is has to maintain. But they have lost 1,300 workers needed to keep up the roads.

The DOT says the Governor recently asked the department to cut at least four percent more from the budget, putting an even greater strain on the maintenance employees.

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