Tannersville, PA – Today State Senator Mario Scavello joined Chris Barrett, CEO of the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau (PMVB), and Monroe County Commissioner Charlie Garris to announce a new litter initiative in the Pocono Mountains.
Senator Scavello stated that efforts have been underway for almost a year to address the problem of litter on area roadways and specifically Interstate 80.
“While our efforts were initially focused on developing a program for inmates to pick litter on area highways, we encountered resistance due to the high cost and liability of administering such a program,” said Scavello. He said that is when Chris Barrett stepped forward with another solution.
“We want guests to come to the Poconos and enjoy the area for its beauty,” said Barrett. “Believe me, there are a lot of areas of the Poconos that are pristine and beautiful, but as guests approach many of the major routes I think we all know that we have a litter issue.”
In response to the concerns, the Visitors Bureau announced they have entered into an agreement with Adopt a Highway Maintenance Corporation to pick up litter along the first 20 miles of Interstate 80 from Delaware Water Gap to State Route 380 in Tobyhanna. The company will pick up I-80 four times a year and the cost will be covered entirely by the existing hotel tax.
Commissioner Garris echoed his support for the initiative. “Its money well spent. The hotel tax is a blessing to the Pocono region. With our new hotels, our fund balances are going up because of the number of people coming here. We can only be an attractive place as long as we keep it neat and clean.”
Trash pick-up along I-80 is just part of a new program started by the Visitors Bureau titled Pick up the Poconos. “The first thing we wanted to do was raise awareness through a media campaign,” according to Barrett. “We have a trash problem and want to dispose of trash properly. We are also working with PennDOT to broadcast the many secondary routes in need of cleanup through their Adopt-A-Highway program.”
The Visitors Bureau hopes to eventually expand their contract with Adopt a Highway Maintenance Company to cover litter pickup on other highways in the region. Residents who wish to learn more about these litter efforts can visit www.pickupthepoconos.com to learn more about how to get involved.
Senator Scavello said the efforts to combat litter align directly with a bill he has proposed, Senate Bill 431, which will increase fines and penalties for littering across the Commonwealth. The bill has already passed the PA Senate unanimously and awaits action in the House Transportation Committee.
Contact: Taylor Munoz