OPINION | PUTTHOFF: Region’s roadsides could use a little litter pick-me-up

Drivers pass litter on March 7 2023 along Arkansas 12 in Rogers. The highway is one of several in Northwest Arkansas that could use a spring cleaning. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)

March means spring fishing, spring break and spring cleaning. It doesn't take a lot of driving to see that some of our highways could use a spring cleanup. There's a fair amount of litter.

Visitors and residents alike will be traveling Northwest Arkansas highways during spring break. The spring break time frame varies from state to state. From mid to late March, visitors will be headed our way to hike and bike our trails, float our rivers and camp at state parks.

It's not like there's litter, litter everywhere, but it's prevalent along roadside, including highways that carry travelers east to outdoor destinations such as Beaver Lake, Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area, Withrow Springs State Park, Kings River, Buffalo National River and others. One stretch of highway might be attractive and litter free. Another may have plenty of trash.

A good example is Arkansas 12 headed east out of Rogers. A particularly messy mile is on the city's eastern edge between Summit Drive and Old Prairie Creek Road inside the city limits. The south side of the highway is especially trashy.

To try and get something done about it, we went to the city of Rogers website and posted a note where people can report a concern about various issues. We wrote that it would be nice if some community service workers or an inmate work detail from the Benton County Jail could pick up trash along the highway. The litter is a black eye on our area.

A prompt response was appreciated that said Arkansas 12 is a state highway, and we should please report our concern to the state.

Some relief may be on the way for the highway, advertised as Scenic Highway 12 on signs in downtown Rogers. We contacted our quorum court representative, District 1 Justice of the Peace Jeff Dunn to alert him of the problem. His response was timely as well.

Dunn wrote in his email reply that he has talked with the Benton County Sheriff's Office to get a county jail work detail out on Arkansas 12 to pick up litter. It is in the scheduling process, he said.

The concern is that this highway through part of Rogers and eastern Benton County is a primary route for visitors and residents, hundreds each day, traveling to these major outdoor recreation spots. People who drive the highway every day would no doubt appreciate an effort to clean it up. Messes of roadside litter don't bode well for our region's reputation.

It would be dangerous to hold some kind of residents cleanup along busy two-lane Arkansas 12 without some traffic signs or flashing lights warning motorists there's a litter crew ahead. The highway's speed limit, at least at Rogers' eastern edge, is 45 mph so traffic naturally zips along at 50 to 55 mph. Out east in the county the speed limit is 55 mph.

For groups involved in the state Adopt-A-Highway program, this may be a good time to eyeball your section of highway and see if it needs some attention. Our visitors and locals alike appreciate these people who do their part to keep our highways clean.

Flip Putthoff can be reached at [email protected]