As I continue my journey across the country I find myself increasing bothered by the constant bombardment of roadside advertising. Surprisingly enough the ones that I have found to be most annoying are the litter control area signs you see very two miles. These are the signs that tell you who is responsible for cleaning up that particular area. Let me point out that when ever I go hiking or spelunking, my backpack always comes back fuller than when I left, because I pick up the trash discarded by other hikers (who shouldn't be allowed there in the first place) I don't erect a sign every time I pick up a beer can in the woods! There is a large rock in Rothrock forest (Pa) that someone painted silver and then wrote Respect the Forest on it. (some people just don't get it) Now I don't fault these people for volunteering their services to keep our highways clean but those signs are at least as irritating as the litter. Many of these signs are nothing but advertising for local businesses. The way I understand the system is that in return for the posting of the signs, the responsible parties must have people come by and pick up litter at least twice a year. Two miles up and back, should be able to be done by one person in a couple maybe three hours three or four persons an hour at best. Now in order to get these volunteers, the state puts up two signs at the cost of at least $200 each (one on each side of the road) and then pays state workers ($20 - $50 hour Three workers two trucks and a whole bunch of orange cones and perhaps a flagman and at least one supervisor) to erect and maintain these signs. My understanding is also that the state in most cases also provides the orange vests worn by the volunteers for their safety. The state sends a truck by to pick up the trash. Then of course there is the bureaucratic keeping of records, work orders and red tape. So in fact in order to save money picking up litter the states are in fact spending upwards of a thousand dollars per year for each two mile stretch of highway times (how many miles of highways in your state?)
Now there has been some complaints in two or three states because the KKK wants to sponsor roadside clean up areas. They have taken the matter to court because they were denied. I haven't heard what happened with this as of yet, but I suspect that they will win that right. The answer to these predicament? Pretty easy get rid of those damn signs. But who will clean up the highways? If those same volunteers will not still do the work they weren't really volunteering in the first place! I have seen that some states now fine up to $1000 for litter bugs, that should pay for something! Some states have 800 number litterbug lines to report those same people. When I was growing up we didn't have those signs and the litter got cleaned up! One method was called court ordered community service, non violent criminals were force to clean up the highways (instead of going to jail) to repay their debts to society. Another way was jailed criminal volunteers were put on work detail in order to get out and enjoy the fresh air and sunlight. (some jails even pay the prisoners 50 cents -$1.50 an hour to to volunteer. A third mostly unrecognized method is bottle deposit laws! Some times called a tax on litter bugs and under aged drinkers (although I am not sure, it would be a correct assumption that governments somehow reap the benefits of unclaimed deposits) Because most of the litter is in the form of some sort of beverage container, those who are down on their luck are often seen gathering these containers for their daily needs. I also believe some states have at least tried to have those dependent on the state (welfare recipients) do this type of work in return for their benefits. If all else fails states could just pay people to clean up it has to be cheaper in the long run. after all they still have the guys out picking up road kill, those trash bags and larger trash (like flat tires, beds and appliances that have left along side the road.) In any case I believe we can keep our country clean with out posting a sign on every two miles of highway!
Of course litter control signs aren't the only, signs along the highway. We also have billboards, giant monster signs, often the focus of very bright spot lights. In some places it seems like there is billboard every couple hundred feet. I think it would be wise of the respective states (especially South Dakota) to regulate these signs, it seems unreasonable that a traveler needs to know a about which restaurants and hotels are a hundred miles down the road. Besides being there, ruining the view, there should be statutes concerning the upkeep of the billboards (especially in South Dakota) While a faded sign is an eyesore, a half of sign to me seems twice as annoying as a complete one. I do find the using of old tractor trailer boxes an interesting method of recycling, but one has to wonder what will become of them once they have finished their usefulness in that capacity. In order to sum up I think we should we limit business signs to within ten miles of the offending business and 50 miles for tourist attractions and those that are not maintained torn down and billing for removal sent to the business. John Galt jr