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Cleaning up after Phish fans cost $35,000

COVENTRY, Vt. -- Cleaning up after fans of the band Phish cost the state $35,000, and it's sending the bill to promoters of this month's festival.

Hundreds of bags of trash were left alongside Interstate 91 while Phish fans were stuck between the Barton and Orleans exits for hours, waiting to get to the festival in Coventry. After state police closed the festival site to traffic because of muddy conditions many fans abandoned their vehicles to walk the rest of the way to the Newport State Airport.

Sam Lewis, deputy director of operations at the Agency of Transportation, said the festival's promoters, Townsend, Mass.-based Great Northeast Productions Inc., would pick up the tab. Adam Lewis, spokesman for Great Northeast, has said all along that the company would pay the cost of picking up the trash.

Crews from the agency's districts in Derby and St. Johnsbury spent three days cleaning up the mess.

Earlier last week, Sam Lewis said the fans had done a pretty good job of leaving the trash in bags. However, he said, people went through the trash bags gathering up cans and bottles to redeem them for the deposit.

Lewis said the contract with Great Northeast stipulated the promoters would pay the state $15,000 for having transportation employees pick up trash associated with the festival, primarily along U.S. Route 5.

Lewis said he didn't have any idea how many truckloads of trash were removed or how much it weighed. However, of the $35,000 bill, $8,000 of it was for dump fees, he said. 

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