ALAMOSA — A hazardous materials crew based in Denver were here Wednesday morning cleaning areas under and around the Highway 160 (Fourth Street) bridge at the direction of the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).
Three people working for CG Environmental, also known as the “Cleaning Guys,” were contracted by CDOT to remove biohazardous waste material from the bridge area according to Lisa Schwantes, regional communications manager based in CDOT’s Durango office.
Schwantes said CDOT crews were inspecting the underside of the bridge a few weeks ago and discovered “a lot of human waste and trash that had accumulated there.” She said an environmental specialist group was needed, considering the type of waste found there.
A CDOT worker on scene was overheard saying that used hypodermic needles have been found in the area in the past.
“We want our CDOT personnel to be safe,” Schwantes said. “Our best course of action going forward will be posting signage immediately prohibiting trespassing on state property.”
She added that a “right of way” surveying crew will be surveying the area in the future to determine the exact boundaries of CDOT’s ROW. Additional signage and possibly fencing could be installed in the future. Long-term, possibly several years down the road, the Alamosa bridge will be scheduled for maintenance.
Schwantes said the problem with the homeless using areas like the bridge is not unique to Alamosa and is something that’s happening all over the state, including the Durango area. She serves the Southwest and Southcentral counties for CDOT. She said similar cases of waste and drug paraphernalia have occurred across the state.
“We would hope the homeless community could find a safer and more sanitary place to be,” she said.
City manager Heather Brooks said a local homeless coalition continues to meet monthly to help identify existing resources for the homeless. Contrary to popular thought, the coalition was not formed to solve homelessness but to study resources and gaps that need filled, she said.
She said a wide range of people serve on the coalition ranging from health professionals to law enforcement, substance abuse representatives and LaPuente.
More information on the coalition and those who serve on it may be found at cityofalamosa.org and clicking on the department’s tab and then “boards and commissions.”