By Chris Bavender
A casual discussion over beers nearly two years ago about litter on the highway near the Indianapolis International Airport led four business partners to form Interstate Business Solutions. It’s mission is to clean up interstates across the state, starting with the stretch from the airport to downtown Indianapolis.
“We felt this stretch of interstate was the first impression people are going to get and we wanted to make it a good one,” said Matt Murray, president of CleanerHighways.com. “We were able to become part of the Sponsor-A-Highway program with (the Indiana Dept. of Transportation) and started to get sponsors for select miles.”
In February and March, the company was awarded a litter contract for the Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, South Bend and Gary areas.
“This was the first litter-removal contract INDOT has ever written and awarded, so as you can imagine it has been a huge learning curve for both sides.,” Murray said. “Our company had to grow from four employees to over 80 in less than one month to prepare for the massive undertaking. We also had to figure out what equipment (trucks, vans, trailers, trash compactors, etc.) it was going to take to safely remove the 20-plus years of litter that has piled up on the interstates.”
In its initial cycle, the company was given 60 days to haul away litter in each market. It collected an estimated 200 tons of litter, filling more than 30,000 trash bag. On average, 3,000 pounds of litter was collected with 225 bags per mile.
Some of the work was focused around Exit 210 in the Noblesville/Fishers area.
“It took roughly 25 hours and an estimated 40 people to pick up all of the litter on the sides of the interstate and the median along I-69 from Exit 205 to Exit 210,” Murray said. “A total of 34,155 pounds and 2,277 trash bags were collected in just this 5-mile stretch.”
The work is paying off, Murray said, and has led to calls and emails to INDOT and the state about how “amazing the sides of the interstate look.”
“One complaint that the state received from businesses and potential conventions looking to relocate to Indiana was about the trash along the highways,” Murray said. “We are taking one less issue away from the state by keeping the interstates clean. Indiana is the ‘Crossroads of America,’ and we need to maintain a nice clean look for everyone traveling through the state.”