N.J. DOT using supervised inmates to clean up highways

The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) has bulked up its “Clean Up NJ” campaign with 100 inmates from the Department of Corrections (DOC).

Ten details of 10 inmates each started picking up litter along state highways in late-May, adding muscle to the Clean Up NJ campaign that is dedicated to keeping New Jersey highways and the green space along them clean and presentable. The DOC details have already removed more than 140,000 pounds of litter from state highways.

Each DOC detail consists of 10 supervised inmates. They are supplementing 420 NJDOT maintenance personnel, divided into 62 crews statewide, who mow grass, pick up litter, cut tree limbs, paint over graffiti, fill potholes and perform other duties to keep New Jersey highways clean.

“Our highways often provide visitors with their first impression of New Jersey, so it is a top priority of the Christie Administration to keep our roadways well-maintained and attractive for tourists and business people alike,” said NJDOT Commissioner James Simpson. “We are pleased to partner with the Department of Corrections in this important mission.  In speaking with the inmates, I am impressed by their motivation and the pride they are taking in their work.”

“This arrangement renews a cooperative partnership that over the years has allowed Department of Corrections inmates to contribute in a productive way to the benefit of New Jersey residents and businesses,” said DOC Commissioner Gary M. Lanigan.

NJDOT crews picked up more than 8 million pounds of litter and debris from state roads through the first three quarters of FY 11.

The third quarter ended March 31, 2011. In that same period, NJDOT crews filled approximately 107,000 potholes, covered 56,000 square yards of graffiti and cleaned 37,000 storm-water inlets.

The DOC details will focus on litter and possibly other maintenance needs over a ten-week period ending in August.

Under Clean Up NJ, NJDOT maintenance crews are concentrated every few months to tackle jobs that are too big for a single crew to complete in a short period of time. These concentrated efforts allow crews to make a noticeable impact along a corridor by addressing every maintenance need at one time.

In April and May, the campaign has targeted I-295 at the interchange with Route 42 and I-76, I-676 and portions of Routes 42 and 55 in southern New Jersey; stretches of I-78, I-287, Route 1 and Route 18 in central New Jersey; and sections of I-78, I-80, I-287 and Routes 10, 21, 23, 46, 57 and 206 in northern New Jersey.

Residents and motorists can help the campaign succeed by putting litter in its proper place.  Every minute devoted to picking up litter takes crews away from other important jobs like mowing grass, filling potholes or fixing roadway signs.