Litter-free highways? Plan underway to hire homeless workers

{A href=""}BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) Residents who stay at the Bakersfield Homeless Center might be the ones who you could see cleaning up the freeways in and around Bakersfield if a proposed plan between Caltrans and the city of Bakersfield is approved.

"We've been looking at this problem ourselves for a long time and frustrated just like the normal citizen is," said Sal Moretti, supervisor with the city's Solid Waste Division.

Caltrans is making $250,000 available to the city of Bakersfield for two years to coordinate freeway clean-ups. The city in turn would contract with the Bakersfield Homeless Center to hire residents at minimum wage to clean up the freeways.

"It's a win-win situation," said Carolann Wooton, administrative services manager with the Bakersfield Homeless Center.

Caltrans used to employ inmates from the California Department of Corrections for freeway clean-ups. Since that stopped, the freeways have since been filled with trash.

"When the prison realignment occurred, that shifted groups of prisoners and made them less available,"said Moretti.

The city is also trying to secure more funding through private sector donors. Details are still being worked out, and the Bakersfield City Council must approve any proposed plan.