From cigarettes to insulation, roadway trash overwhelms

Photo by Nate Horwitz

In addition to scenic views of the state forest, travelers driving along west out of Edgartown along Edgartown-West Tisbury Road last weekend were treated to a view of trash. Cigarettes butts, pink insulation, construction debris, bottles, plastic sheets and full bags of household trash spilling out their contents could be easily seen Edgartown-West Tisbury Road.

Town and Island officials said it is an ongoing battle to keep the roadway clean. They pointed to the long winter, uncovered truck loads, and everyday littering.

Edgartown residents and builders working in Edgartown must traverse the state road on their way to the Martha’s Vineyard Regional Refuse District headquarters just opposite the entrance to the Martha’s Vineyard Airport.

“It’s been an ongoing issue,” Refuse District manager Don Hatch said. “Part of it is uncovered loads. We say we don’t accept uncovered loads, but if we don’t take them the drivers leave with the load uncovered, so we take the load and notify the drivers.”

“We have assistance from the Dukes County prison to address litter issues on Martha’s Vineyard,” Department of Transportation spokesperson Michael Verseckes said in an email to The Times. “This year, the program resumed for the season this past week. Efforts are typically daily but are subject to weather and inmate availability.

Lt. Colonel Durwood Araujo of the sheriff’s department oversees inmate trash collection operations, one of the main reasons Island roads stay clean most of the year.

“We do a good job of keeping all the Island’s state roads clean,” Lt. Colonel Araujo said in a telephone conversation last Wednesday.

“This is our first week back. Weather permitting, we’ll try to get out Monday through Friday.” The two or more inmates who are assigned trash collection have to be class blue, minimum security, or class green, pre-release.

“Usually we get trash along Edgartown-West Tisbury Road, because the dump is there, but we don’t usually get full bags of trash,” he said.

Margaret Serpa, chairman of the Edgartown selectmen, has listened to residents express concerns.

“I’ve noticed the trash myself going back-and-forth along that road,” she said. “But we haven’t even discussed it, and won’t unless somebody brings it to us. It’s a state highway, so I don’t know how to stop it.”