Fresno

Caltrans kicks in more cash to clean up Fresno’s highways

Fresno City Council is scheduled Thursday to temporarily increase spending on its freeway trash cleanup program through additional funds from CalTrans. 

Last January, the Fresno City Council approved a $197,000 contract with a landscape maintenance company through the California Highway Adoption program to clean Highways 99, 41, 168 and 180 throughout the city once a month. 

The Fresno City Council then increased those services to twice a month for Highways 99 and 41 with an additional $119,500 contract in May 2020. 

Since the Freeway Litter Abatement program officially began last March, the Highway Litter Control team has removed 8,406 bags of litter, which comes to approximately 69 tons of trash along the freeways. 

In total, the annual program runs at a $400,000 cost: $100,000 from the city, $100,000 from the Fresno County Transportation Authority and $200,000 from CalTrans. 

Prior to the start of the program, Council members Garry Bredefeld and Miguel Arias vented their displeasure at Caltrans in 2019 over continual trash pileup on the local freeways and advocated for a sustained clean-up effort on the highways. 

With the program one year in, CalTrans has approached the city offering an additional $197,000 to be spent up until July 1. City staff has agreed to a one-time $195,194 contract with the landscape maintenance vendor to increase services to four times per month on all four highways in April, May and June. 

Both the appropriation of the CalTrans funds and the new contract await the council’s approval on Thursday. 

“I’ve been supportive of the program, I’ll continue to be supportive of it,” Bredefeld told The Sun. “It is helping keep the highways clean. The bottom line obviously is that we’ve been able to remove people living on the highways, which have caused the problems with trash, health and safety issues and weakened structures on the highway because they’ve burrowed into the embankments. 

“All of it is making the highways much better. Clearly we need to continue to support this program to keep the highways clean.” 

Bredefeld pointed to Mayor Jerry Dyer’s recent efforts to remove and house the homeless individuals who were living along the highways as something that will facilitate the success of the trash cleanup program. 

“It was a program that we needed to do, but it was never going to be as effective as it could be until we removed the homeless,” Bredefeld said. “And now that that’s happened, we will see the highways improve dramatically, just as we’ve been seeing.” 

At a special City Council meeting last Thursday, Dyer said more than 130 individuals who were living on the 41 have been housed as part of “Project Off-Ramp.” 

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.