A lofty goal was revealed by the City of Bakersfield Tuesday, litter-free freeways within one year. The city said it now has the money and manpower to make it happen.
It's Caltrans' responsibility to clean these freeways, but with the loss of state prisoner cleanup crews, the feat seemed impossible.
"The problem was more than we could handle," said John Lui, Deputy District Director for the Caltrans Division of Maintenance and Operations.
So the city took it upon themselves to find a solution.
"It's really horrible," said Sal Moretti, Superintendent for the City of Bakersfield Solid Waste Division. "It's like a war zone in some areas."
The plan is to hire residents from the Bakersfield Homeless Center to clean the freeways.
"I haven't heard a single concern about safety," said Louis Gill, CEO of the Bakersfield Homeless Center. "All we've heard is, can I interview for a job?"
Employing the homeless will cost about $500,000 annually: $250,000 will come from Caltrans. The Kern Council of Governments committed to contributing $300,000.
"It's win, win, win. Everyone can benefit from a program like this and have a clean city," said Moretti.
Private donors have also expressed interest in contributing, and KGET is spearheading the effort to get them involved. Caltrans said, if implemented, this program will be like no other in the state.
"This is very unique. There is no other program like this in the state that I am aware," said Lui.
Local law enforcement is also jumping on board. The Kern County Sheriff's Department agreed to use inmates to clean county roads. The Bakersfield Police Department along with the California Highway Patrol vowed to ramp up enforcement.
"Law enforcement, as a whole, is dedicated to this issue," said Assistant Police Chief Lyle Martin of the Bakersfield Police Department.
The plan still needs approval from all parties including the Bakersfield City Council, but after Tuesday many are hopeful.
"We're going to feel good about the way we look," said Moretti. "We're going to feel good and say, hey that's my city."