Private Group to Clean Up Pocono Highways

POCONO TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- There's a new plan to clean up the interstates in the Poconos.

State Senator Mario Scavello, the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau, and Monroe County commissioners announced Wednesday morning that a private contractor called Adopt A Highway Maintenance Corporation has been hired to pick up garbage along the roadway.

Trash will be picked up on Interstate 80 from the New Jersey toll up to the Interstate 380 split in Monroe County.

Christine Webb from Pine Grove in Schuylkill County visits the Poconos often, and while most people notice the beauty, she notices something else.

"I am tired of seeing trash and dead animals going down the highway," Webb said.

"We want our guests to really be able to come to the Poconos and enjoy it for its beauty. Believe me, there are a lot of areas in the Poconos are beautiful, but as the guests approach on major routes, I think we all know that we have a litter issue on those routes," said Chris Barrett, Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau.

The first phase will cost $60,000 and will be paid for with money from the hotel room tax in the Poconos.

Officials say hiring the company is cheaper than having prisoners pick up trash because of insurance and other costs.

There is also a bill in the State House right now that if passed, will increase fines and penalties for littering. In some cases, penalties could include the litterbug picking up trash for 40 hours.

"They are going to be hefty fines. It's not going to be a slap on the back and on top of the fine, they are going to have to pick up litter. So this is how we are going to come down on them," said State Sen. Mario Scavello, (R) 40th District.

Officials say this plan will also allow PennDOT workers to focus on just fixing roads.

The first of four cleanups is scheduled for sometime next month.

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