City crews diverted from litter pickup to pothole patching

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — When some of you noticed trash piling up on the side of the highway, you called us at WREG with concerns.

Turns out, the recent attention the city has paid to patching potholes has diverted city workers from cleaning up all the litter, officials say.

Our cameras spotted caution tape, plastic cups and food bags on the side of I-240.

Some people who drove by called it an even bigger problem.

"You can see it everywhere you look really," driver Tim Bumpous said.

"If I see someone littering, especially at a red light, when they're window is down I'll grab it, toss it in their window and say, 'The street's not your trash can,'" Memphis resident Alan Reed said.

Both men say they've noticed significant littering on the roads in Memphis for a long time.

City officials say they know it's a problem.

"We are working on a program that we'll announce soon about our ability to better enforce the litter laws around the city," Memphis Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowan said.

But since mid-January, the city has been dealing with something else — potholes.

"We are always trying not to hit potholes. It can take out somebody's car," driver Alyssa Trent said.

Officials say "have pulled crews off of other tasks, including litter pickup, to prioritize this."

They say since that time, 50 public works employees have filled more than 18,000 potholes.

These drivers say it’s worth the sacrifice.

"It's not that big of a deal, it's trash, but potholes are a life or death situation," driver Tim Alford said.

"It's just a temporary thing that needs to get taken care of, because people's tires are getting blown out. Taxpayer money needs to be used correctly," Reed said.

But once spring comes, and the roads even out, city officials say they expect to within the next two weeks.