ST. LOUIS — With nearly half of St. Louis trash trucks in such bad shape that they won't even run, many of you may have had your trash pickup delayed. Many more may see overflowing dumpsters in back alleys.
Aaron McLemore lives in South City and says it's barely safe enough to walk down his back alley, let alone get behind the wheel.
"I’ve got to watch for nails and glass and I can’t even drive through this alley," said McLemore.
Paper, glass and even shattered Christmas ornaments, 'deck the alley' near Grand Boulevard. Aaron jokes, just seeing the bare pavement would be a Christmas miracle.
"People can’t put their trash in their dumpster? They throw it all around," he said.
St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said illegal dumping has been an issue in the gateway city for generations, but now is the time to kick it in the curb.
She plans on making prosecuting the filthy habit a priority.
"We have many folks who we have ticketed about dumping, and about 20 of them we’ve convicted of dumping and they have to pay a $500 fine and they have to do 40 hours of community service," Krewson said.
Of course, major delays in trash pickup are only making things worse. Krewson said this year, 36 out of 86 trash trucks broke down.
She wants to remind you this just didn't happen overnight.
"Have you ever driven a car that was old, you knew you needed a new car but you just didn’t have the money for that new car. You kept driving it, you kept hoping you’d get another year out of it. Well that’s the way the city was on trash trucks," she said.
She said help is on the way.
"We have 16 new trucks we’ve already received over the last year and a half or so. And now until the end of the year we’re going to get 15 more," Krewson said.
In the meantime, because of the backlog of trash pickup, it's also taking the city a long time to get out of alleys like these and clean them up. Which means it now falls on the shoulders of neighbors.
Darris Morris, a 5th grader who lives nearby, had to clean up their alley as punishment after he got into some trouble at school.
While he said the chore wiped his slate clean, the alley didn't stay that way for long.
"In a couple of weeks, it was back to the same way," said McLemore.
That's why Aaron's concerned, even when all the trash trucks are back up and running, his alley will still be a pigsty.
"It’s ridiculous," he said.
To combat the problem, Mayor Krewson hopes to launch 100 new cameras to catch these trash dumpers in the act so they can prosecute them.