Numerous sections of southern California's freeways are dramatically cleaner today, three months after the NBC4 I-Team exposed how Caltrans hadn't cleaned up mountains of trash littering highways for years. After our February report, Caltrans promised to do better.
Trashed: Click here for the NBC4 I-Team's reports.
"You will continue to see improvements from here on," said Godson Okereke of Caltrans District 7.
For over a year, the I-Team has been documenting uncollected trash piling up on offramps, onramps, and freeway embankments across the LA area.
"It's worse than Third World conditions, right here in Los Angeles," Cam Grossman told NBC4. Grossman owns a duplex that overlooks the trash-covered 101 offramp at Highland Avenue near the Hollywood Bowl.
After the I-Team questioned Caltrans officials in late February about the heaps of uncollected trash, the agency vowed to put workers on overtime to clean up the rat-infested garbage heaps.
The I-Team has been watching key parts of the freeways and has documented noticeable improvements.
The 101 near Sunset Boulevard, the 170 freeway in the San Fernando Valley, the 10 Freeway near downtown LA, and the 101 near Western Avenue--to name a few--were all covered with tons of trash earlier this year, but have now been cleaned up.
"What it will take is for us to go out there more often. And we’re doing that and dedicated towards that," said Caltrans' Okereke.
Caltrans is also holding hiring fairs this month to find another 150 workers to clean up trash along freeways in the LA area. They're hoping some of these hires will be formerly homeless people.
The new hires were made possible by a proposed $1.5 billion dollars to clean up California's freeways, that Gov. Gavin Newsom put in his state budget unveiled last month.
"The state's too damn dirty," Newsom said in May.
While many areas of the freeways are looking cleaner lately, tons of trash continue to pile up in other areas, like the 101 Freeway north offramp at Highland Avenue near the Hollywood Bowl, where a homeless encampment sits and apparently generates a lot of trash.
The I-Team aired a story on in late April documenting the huge piles of garbage on this offramp and it's encampment.
"Caltrans came out right before you broadcast, because they knew you were going to do the story and they cleaned it up. But now, it's worse than it was before," said Cam Grossman.
Caltrans told the I-Team it cleaned up the Highland Avenue offramp eight days ago, but NBC4 documented that it's already covered with garbage again.
Grossman and other nearby residents say the least Caltrans could do is put out trash cans or a dumpster for the homeless who live on the offramp.
"There’s no place for these people to even put trash," Grossman told NBC4.