California Department of Transportation

California Department of Transportation

Headquarters - Public Affairs Office
Tamie McGowen
(916) 654-5782

April 27, 2006  


The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) today announced that James Lawrence has been appointed as the coordinator of a new and comprehensive anti-litter campaign. Lawrence will work with other state agencies and nonprofit organizations to increase public awareness about preventing littering and illegal dumping.

Litter is a statewide problem that cost communities millions of dollars each year to clean up – money that could otherwise be spent on transportation projects, schools, housing and social services. Caltrans spends roughly $40 million each year picking up litter on California’s highways. The Department’s workers swept more than 184,000 highway lane miles last year to remove debris and litter, which is equal to circling the Earth at the equator seven times. Caltrans employees and Adopt-A Highway groups collectively picked up 11.6 million pounds of trash last year.

“Litter is a statewide problem, and we are actively working to improve our anti-litter efforts and to enlist the public’s help in resolving the issue,” said Caltrans Director Will Kempton.

Over the past 20 years, the amount of people using California’s transportation infrastructure has increased dramatically, which has increased demands on roadway maintenance. The amount of trash along California’s highways has steadily increased with the rise in population. Caltrans’ staffing levels have not kept pace due to budget constraints and higher priority items –such as maintaining the safety and integrity of the highway system.

According to Caltrans research, a significant amount of trash ends up on highways by “flying out” the back of pickup trucks, either from loads that aren’t tied down or from the occasional piece of trash in the truck bed that becomes airborne when the truck travels on the highway.

“Littering affects the quality of life of every citizen in this state,” Lawrence said. “We must think conscientiously of what it means to toss fast food wrappers, cigarette butts and other trash out of our vehicles, onto the roadside.”

Lawrence began his career with Caltrans in 1988, following graduation from Humboldt State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Resources Engineering. He has worked in Caltrans’ Divisions of Design, Construction, Transportation Planning, Project Management, and Maintenance.