What's Driving You Crazy? Trash, graffiti on Illinois expressways

CHICAGO (WLS) -- In this week's "What's Driving You Crazy," ABC7 viewer Jean wants to know: who oversees trash removal on the Eisenhower Expressway?

Cleaning garbage and debris from the side of the expressways is the responsibility of the Illinois Department Transportation's Department of Maintenance - the same people who do pothole patching, crash barrel repairs and many other jobs to keep the expressways safe.

"When we're spending so much time doing the litter-picking, it's taking away from other maintenance issues up and down the highways," IDOT Operations Manager Hiram White said.

It's not just drivers. Litter from pedestrians makes its way onto the expressways.

From January first to mid-April, IDOT has removed nearly 99,000 bags of garbage from the expressways with a waste disposal cost of over $36,000.

Admittedly frustrated, IDOT supervisors said they're in the process of hiring more than 100 full-time maintenance workers to cover the expressways and state highways in Chicago and the suburbs.

The second part of this question has to do with the graffiti along the Eisenhower. Whose job is it to clean and try to prevent it?

Again, this job falls on the IDOT maintenance crews, although the tedious and time consuming graffiti removal must be done at night when traffic volume is low.

"We use what we call a 'soda blaster.' It's a machine very similar to a power washer, except that instead of washing with water and soap, we actually wash with baking soda," IDOT Bureau Chief Maintenance Jim Stumpner said.

This type of graffiti is considered criminal defacement of property and is a Class A misdemeanor. Illinois State Police enforce these laws and said, depending on the location where the graffiti is sprayed, punishment could be a minimum fine of $500, reimbursement for clean-up and repairs or community service of up to 120 hours.

There is a $120 fine for littering, too. IDOT officials ask drivers to do their part by keeping a litter bag in their car and being more conscientious.
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