Governor Dan McKee joined the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) today to officially launch the Department's new "Clean Rhodes" anti-litter initiative and highlight the #RIMillionPieces challenge. The Governor, First Lady Susan McKee, Lt. Governor Sabina Matos, RIDOT Director Peter Alviti, WPRO radio host Gene Valicenti and Keep Blackstone Valley Beautiful Director Donna Kaehler met in Warwick to pick up litter at RIDOT's Route 117 Park and Ride.
RIDOT's Clean Rhodes program will offer new opportunities for businesses and volunteer groups to beautify Rhode Island's roads and keep them clean. RIDOT is also ordering new equipment to remove litter more efficiently. RIDOT spends $800,000 annually to pick up trash on state roads. The #RIMillionPieces challenge is a grassroots effort led by Keep Blackstone Valley Beautiful to pick up 1 million pieces of litter by encouraging all Rhode Islanders to do their part.
Litter on Rhode Island's highways, secondary roads, on-ramps and other public areas has increased during the pandemic. RIDOT also has seen an increase in certain types of litter, mostly in the form of take out containers with more people working remotely and taking their food to go.
"While we do our part to make litter pick up easier and quicker, I challenge each Rhode Islander to be part of the solution," said Governor Dan McKee. "If everyone picks up just one piece of litter, that's nearly a million pieces of litter off our roadways. Let's show a sense of pride in our beautiful state and keep it looking clean and litter-free."
"Litter is one of the biggest sources of complaints for RIDOT and has us spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in a seemingly never-ending battle of picking up trash along our roads," RIDOT Director Peter Alviti, Jr. said. "We're upping our game and enlisting the help of the business and volunteer community to help us address this blight on our roads."
The Department has revamped its highway adoption and sponsorship programs to make them easier for businesses and organizations to identify areas of roads to clean. All information on the programs, links to maps to help people quickly find areas near them to adopt, and online application forms are located at www.ridot.net/CleanRhodes.
As part of the Clean Rhodes initiative, RIDOT will purchase specialized litter removal equipment that attaches to its maintenance vehicles so the Department can rake and clean litter from strips of land and other larger green spaces along roads more easily. RIDOT expects this equipment to cost approximately $750,000 and is seeking grant funding to aid in its purchase.
In addition to the initiatives that are part of Clean Rhodes, RIDOT will reach out to business groups, media organizations, chambers of commerce and other civic organizations to discuss ways to partner with the Department on litter clean-up efforts and get the message out to the public to play their part and never toss trash out of their cars.