Every year, tons of trash and debris leftover from the Fourth of July festivities are left behind on Texas roads costing thousands in clean up fees. Clean up crews contracted by the Texas Department of Transportation was out and about early Friday morning picking up the clutter.
"Inevitably, every Friday we end up out here cleaning up and so we have a litter contractor that comes out to clean up the roadways in the Wichita Falls area and other parts of our 9 counties" said Texas Department of Transportation Wichita Falls Public Information Officer Adele Lewis.
TxDot spends about $5000 in clean up fees on State Highway 240 alone. With the large amounts of trash, litter crews often spend all of July 5th picking up the mess.
Works Service Corporation Litter Crew Supervisor Annette Branch has been out since 6am Friday. "We pick up beer cans, lots of beer cans. Cigarette packs and boxes where they put the fireworks in when they bring them out" she said.
This year however, Branch along with other crew members were surprised to see that most of the clutter had been picked up. The trash only filled four bags, significantly less then years before.
Branch thinks this is partially because Sheppard Air Force Base did not have their Fourth of July celebration this year. Designated and legal areas to launch personal firework displays like the Planet Fireworks lot in Jolly also helped keep much of the trash off the roads. They also hired a litter contractor that cleaned up the mess in their lot Friday afternoon.
Clean up crews hope Texomans will be responsible again next year to help keep state roads spotless and for that, Branch offers one piece of advice.
"Just be safe, bring trash bags out and pick up your trash. That's all we can ask for."
The state of Texas spends 46 million dollars each year on highway clean ups. If you are caught littering or leaving your firework debris behind, you can be charged with a misdemeanor carrying up to a $500 fine.