Mounds of litter on I-126 can be seen on Google Map satellite photo

Mounds of litter on I-126 can be seen on Google Map satellite photo

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Interstate 126 in downtown Columbia is a major entryway into the Capital City for thousands of drivers.

Unfortunately, it has turned into a bit of a trash dump and eyesore for the city -- not a good example of Palmetto Pride.

The anti-litter group with that name has a visible presence on that stretch of highway. Executive Director Sarah Lyles said the organization is aware of the trash issue here. Part of it, she says, involves access for anyone involved in a clean-up effort.

RELATED: See photos of the garbage on the side of Interstate 126.

"There is a problem with that particular area as the picture will show with the medians," Lyles said. "There's not a safe place for people to cross and stand to get to that. Plus there's just a lot of traffic in that particular area. People coming and going. And the speeds, people are going to speed up because they're trying to get to the interstate and that will carry things out of the truck beds."

A cursory look at the inbound lane of I-126 on Google Maps shows the problem to be even worse. The fact that you can see the trash piled up on a satellite image from space is not the best image to put forward for South Carolina.

Lyles said more often than not, litter or trash accumulates in a spot like that accidentally as opposed to being deliberately dumped.

"Deliberate illegal dumping tends to happen on the secondary roads and back roads where people don't travel as often," Lyles said. "This particular area, I would say, it's probably coming off of a pickup truck that's not properly secured or it could be a tractor trailer that's not properly secured."

So who's responsible for removing the trash? The City of Columbia cuts grass along the roadside, but a spokeswoman tells us debris and litter removal is the Department of Transportation's job. A spokesman for the state agency says it is looking into the problem.

Lyles said the city's image suffers when the landscape around it is trashed.

"It is an economic development issue," Lyles said. "It is a community safety issue. It is a quality of life issue. It's very important, it is not just a plastic bottle on the side of the road. It is not just a plastic bag. It affects everybody's quality of life in South Carolina."

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