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Thousands of needles, trash cleaned out from under Rochester bridge

July 17, 2019 06:10 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) -- Dozens of piles of trash and thousands of used needles were cleaned out from underneath a bridge that carries Route 104 over Carter Street in the City of Rochester on Wednesday.  

After months of complaints from people who live in the area, the NYS Department of Transportation, with the help of an environmental contractor to handle the needles, had a number of crews at the bridge removing garbage.  

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Neighbors have been telling News10NBC for the past few weeks that the garbage was getting out of control. They often saw people shooting up under the bridge, sleeping and even going to the bathroom. Aggressive panhandling is also a problem in the area.  

On Wednesday, dozens of workers, heavy equipment and an environmental team specializing in needle handling cleaned up the mess which had built up over the past several months.

"This is something we don't like to see on our right-of-way. Certainly, it's a safety concern for not only our workers but the community at large," says Jordan Guerrein, spokesman for the NYS DOT.

DOT got some help on Wednesday from a group called Person Centered Housing Options which fights homelessness in our community.

"We came out last night because we knew that they were coming today and we don't want people to lose their belongings," says Lisa Kuhmann who heads an intervention team.

PCHO CEO Nicholas Coulter tells News10NBC that most of the folks who spend time in that area don't actually live there.

"There's a few folks that are here and then most folks are in and out... a lot of panhandling [in the area] this is the way it goes for folks."

News10NBC's Jennifer Lewke: "Obviously, this is a bad situation. We're seeing tons of trash, probably thousands of needles. When was the last time you were here doing this?"

Jordan Guerrein: "We used to come out here frequently but my understanding is we did this once in the last year and we're back out here today."

Lewke: "Will you be regularly doing this or only if there are complaints?"

Guerrein: "So, our policy as of right now is, we'll go in during bridge inspections and clean out the bridge but this isn't something we have the resources to do every week or every other week."

Lewke: "Is there a long-term solution here?"

Geurrein: "I think that's what we're working to find out. It is our right-of-way so ultimately it is our responsibility but again, this is a larger community issue that we're not equipped to deal with alone so we need the city's help and we need law enforcement's help."

A spokesman for the City of Rochester tells News10NBC that while the right-of-way is owned by the NYS DOT, they are willing to provide assistance, when needed, cleaning up the area.

A spokeswoman for the Rochester Police Department says that patrols in the area have been stepped up and they are looking for any illegal behavior underneath or near the bridge.   

Credits

Jennifer Lewke

Copyright 2019 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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