New machine to pick up trash on I-90 this spring

New trash machine working in the median of I-90

The Idaho Transportation Department will use a new machine this spring to pick up trash along Interstate 90 from Washington to Coeur d’Alene.

“Now that the snow has melted, everyone can see the ugly truth about how much garbage has been piling up all winter,” Operations Engineer Jerry Wilson said. “This year, we have already started our cleanup efforts and will use a new machine, once conditions allow, to do it more efficiently.”

The department invested in the machine to speed up the collection process. It only takes two operators: one to drive the machine, which uses metal teeth to comb through the grass, and another to haul the trash away in a dump truck.

“To do one mile by hand, it takes five operators working together for eight hours,” Wilson said. “With the machine, we can cut that down to two people working five hours and still cover the same distance.”

The machine works well in the flat areas in the median, which Adopt-A-Highway volunteers are typically encouraged to avoid for their own safety.

“We will continue to rely on volunteers through the Adopt-A-Highway program to help get this mess cleaned up,” Wilson said. “They are just as valuable to us as this new machine, and we are inspired by the effort they make every year to keep Idaho beautiful.”

In 2021, volunteers in North Idaho picked up 4,171 bags of litter or about 72.8 tons – enough to fill 18 garbage trucks.

“There’s always a lag time between when the snow melts and the trash gets picked up, but once the median gets less muddy, and we have the dump truck ready to go, you’ll see us out there using the new equipment,” Wilson said.