PINE BELT (WDAM) - Littering has been an ongoing issue here in the Magnolia State, costing taxpayers $3.2 million annually to keep the state clean.
"If people wouldn't litter and throw trash on the side of the highway, then this money could be used to improve our roads," MDOT's public information officer Jason Scott said.
Scott said for them to work on the roads, they must first be clean, and that means implementing a few programs such as the Inmate Litter Removal program.
It's a partnership between local law enforcement that uses prisoners to remove litter from highways.
"Without these programs offered through the Mississippi Department of Transportation, litter would clutter and trash our highways from the Delta to the Coast," Scott said.
He said for years there was a vast improvement in the reduction of litter; however, over the past five years, the cost to pick up trash has remained flat.
MDOT said the $3.2 million is only for state-highways, and taxpayers also need to be aware that it also costs to keep local cities clean as well.
Laurel Mayor Johnny Magee said they've spent $39,545 this year to keep their city clean. The City of Hattiesburg Public Works department said they try to save money on litter pick-up by recruiting community volunteers to keep the streets clean.
The state of Mississippi is a beautiful state, and Scott just wants to see it clean.
"We're going to continue to look for innovative ways to educate the public on what litter does to our state, and we're going to continue doing our job to make Mississippi litter free," Scott said.
For ways on how you can help keep the state clean, visit mdot.ms.gov.