Exclusive look at what CDOT debris crews encounter

Problem Solvers

DENVER (KDVR) — Each year, Colorado spends millions of dollars picking up debris on our highways because people aren’t securing their loads properly.

From July 2020 to the end of May 2021, the Colorado Department of Transportation spent $2.8 million on debris cleanup in the Denver metro area alone; that adds up to to 35 tons of debris hauled to the landfill.

Problem Solver Nicole Fierro went on an exclusive ride along with one of CDOT’s debris crews to see the issues behind the big clean-up bill.

In just part of the morning, they came across mattresses, tubing in the middle of the road, massive parts of cars, and more on a metro-area stretch of Interstate 25.

“We run the roads from 6 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. as a debris crew and there’s maybe a good hour of silence sometimes,” CDOT debris crew member Mark Simons said.

From January through the last week of May, the CDOT dispatch center in Golden sent crews to more than 800 debris calls. The teams are averaging 135 calls per month and 33 per week.

That doesn’t include items they frequently spot and pick up themselves along their routes.

“It’s a massive issue,” CDOT debris crew member Tina Orihuela said. “That could be my family member out there on road and encounter a problem. I don’t know if people are being educated on strapping down their loads or what is happening.”

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