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ODOT: Trash piling up along Hwy. 126; cleanup crews scarce amid COVID-19

(Update: Adding video, comments by ODOT, DCSO)

REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Oregon Highway 126 has seen a recent trash buildup between Redmond and Prineville due to a lack of inmate crews and others who usually tackle the litter-removal task, ODOT said Thursday.

ODOT officials said they now view the need for an immediate cleanup as ar top priority, and are working on how to proceed.

Typically, they said, the agency receives assistance through youth volunteer groups, the "Adopt a Highway" program and inmate work crews from area jails.

But all have been disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to enforce social distancing and limit interactions that could spread the virus.

Reporter Alec Nolan spoke Thursday with ODOT Region 4 Public Information Officer Peter Murphy about how the department will clear the trash moving forward.

"Youth volunteers come to work with us over the summer to pick up litter," Murphy said. "We've also worked with trustees from the county jail system, but neither of those are available to us right now due to the COVID situation."

Although ODOT monitors the roads and highways across the state, cleaning up litter is not their primary responsibility, Murphy said. The department has always relied on help from the community, but the pandemic has complicated partnerships.

We also spoke with Deschutes County sheriff's Lt. William Bailey to better understand the decision to not use inmate work crews for cleanup efforts.

"Our office is really proud to have this service," Bailey said. "Because of COVID-19, correctional facilities across the state have had to make changes to keep their adults in custody safe."

Without usual help at their disposal, ODOT is now asking the Central Oregon community to help take action.

Simply put: They're asking people not to litter.

Coronavirus / Deschutes County / Environment / Government-politics / Top Stories
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Alec Nolan

Alec Nolan is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Alec here.



  1. I’d go pick up the trash but I’m making too much money sitting on my butt smoking weed, drinking beer, and collecting my Covid checks. Thanks, Trump! Thanks, Kate!

  2. Hey Barney, Who do we contact about the 97 bypass here in Bend? The area between downtown and Reed Market is pretty full of trash. Would be nice to get that on someone’s radar to clean up too.

  3. I seen this kid filming himself in front of a turn off today that will take you out East of Redmond in to the BLM grounds. It’s laughable that ktvz reports on road side trash when just a 1/2 mile or so from where this report was filmed the bum camps out there are completely full of trash, abandoned cars, campers, tents and so on. Next time you should have a report on how bad it is East of Redmond.

  4. They’re asking people not to litter?
    How about getting rid of the transient camps everywhere in the area? That’s where 90% of the trash comes from.

  5. “Because of covid”…. So what…you know it was done, so get off your lazy pers drawing asses and get it done. They can burn buildings and beat cops with covid… you can quit whining and get to work

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