Dirty Dan Ryan: Aldermen demand trash cleanup along expressways

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From the Loop all the way to 95th Street, it's gotten so bad that two Chicago aldermen have had enough. (WLS)

It's an inevitable side effect of winter: litter - lots of it - strewn all along Chicago's expressways. It's an eyesore to say the least - one that is at its most glaring on the Dan Ryan. From the Loop all the way to 95th Street, it's gotten so bad that two Chicago aldermen have had enough.

"We're a world-class city and yet, you drive down the Dan Ryan Expressway and it looks like a garbage dump," said Alderman Matt O'Shea (19th Ward).

"Amazon was here last week. Not quite sure where they toured, but if they saw that, that's not an impression we want to give them. That that's what the rest of our city looks like," said Alderman Mike Zalewski (23rd Ward).

The Illinois Department of Transportation, not the city, is responsible for clean up along the Dan Ryan.

A spokesperson for IDOT says a massive litter removal operation took place during the first part of March and that any debris on the shoulder or side of the road is new garbage as of the 15th. IDOT said, in part, "In the first half of the month, the district picked up nearly 8,000 bags of litter on all Chicagoland expressways. With another lull in weather, trash removal will ramp up again starting tomorrow. Crews will be working overtime to get it done."

"Unfortunately people are going to throw garbage out their windows while speeding down our expressways. I wish we had a better way to address that, but we need to do a better job of maintaining the cleanliness of our expressways," O'Shea said.

The current fines for motorists who are caught littering go from $150 up to $1,500 dollars. It's a penalty which is rarely imposed and difficult to enforce.

"If they don't see it, there's no ticket issued - no matter what the fine is. And now it's a matter of cleaning it. It's like graffiti," Zalewski said.

Since they made their complaints 24 hours ago, the aldermen said they've noticed some cleanup taking place. IDOT said additional cleanup crews will be out again on Wednesday.
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