NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The New Mexico Department of Transportation says it’s been a long time coming and that’s why they’re launching a $10 million plan to help clean up some of the state’s most heavily traveled roads.

“We’ve got to clean up the state, We recognize that it’s been a problem. We have received a lot of passionate complaints from people but also pleas for our state, it’s more like, ‘Hey we love it here, it here really is rough,’” said NMDOT Spokesperson, Marisa Maez.

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NMDOT has contracted two private companies to clean up all the litter along roadways. They started Monday with the stretch of I-25 from La Bajada to Los Lunas. Part of the plan will also include cleanup in five mile increments on the stretch of I-25 from the Texas border, past Las Cruces.

NMDOT says litter and debris accumulated quickly during the pandemic because people became lazy not throwing their trash in the appropriate bins, fewer DOT maintenance workers and a lack of inmate labor because the prisons were on lockdown.

Now that restrictions are easing up, the DOT is able to get some of that help back. “We are also using some of those ARPA funds to hire temporary workers and those workers will be paid $15-20 an hour and they will work with our crews,” said Maez.

The DOT says the program will be funded with the $10 million from the American Rescue Plan Act that was approved by the state legislature for roadside beautification projects. After the work along I-25, the DOT  says they’ll focus on I-40 and other roads.