adopt a highway

I am sure everyone has seen signs along the side of many country roads, interstates and highways that state, “Adopt-A-Highway”. These signs also give the name of the group, family or organization that has adopted that stretch of road, or in some cases state that a certain section of road is up for adoption.

The true name is the Adopt-A-Highway Maintenance Corporation, this program was first developed along a stretch of road in Texas in 1985 by several local highway workers. Combined along with the “Don’t Mess With Texas” campaign the state reduced their highway litter by 54% within two years. Since 1990, 49 states along with 6 Canadian provinces, New Zealand and Puerto Rico have started using this program to beautify area roadways.

This program, with its 1.1 million volunteers, that have adopted over 158,000 miles of US roadways have saved the Department Of Transportation millions of dollars. Since volunteers are now cleaning litter from roadways, this saves DOT employees to take care of other needs, such as road repair and clearing.

The volunteers range from civic groups and organizations, to corporations and even families. On average the adopted stretch of roadway is two miles, and needs to be cleaned four times per year. Volunteers are given briefings on working safely along the roadway, orange safety hard hats and vests, and garbage bags. The DOT will pick up the filled bags and dispose of them properly. Volunteers are also required to wear some type of gloves and hard soled shoes, and warned not to pick up anything dangerous such as anything needle related or broken glass. They are to contact DOT employees to handle these matters.

The volunteers can be as young as twelve, but anyone from twelve to eighteen must have a parent or guardian with them at all times.

A two year renewable contract is signed with the DOT, and volunteers must obtain a HIWAY work permit.

A sign is then posted on the adopted stretch of roadway stating the name of the organization, business or family that are the adopters. This is actually a great advertisement for businesses, since these signs are posted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and will also show that your group or business is interested in your community.

If you have a business or organization, the DOT will also do a little research to find the best marketing target area for you to adopt.

Signs usually take approximately six weeks to be posted after you have adopted your stretch of road.

The contract will not be renewed if the adopters do not keep up with keeping their stretch of road litter free.

Not only are the volunteers to pick up litter, they are also permitted to mow and plant approved vegetation along the adopted roadways.

Depending on where you live and what is needed to beautify your section of roadway, there may be costs. There are some sections that will require graffiti removal or mechanical sweeping that can become a little costly. Be sure to check with your Resident Engineer for any costs that may be incurred on your adopted roadway.

If you are interested in the Adopt-A-Highway program contact your state’s Department of Transportation and find out who is your County Resident Engineer. These are generally the people in charge of this program. Each maintenance district in each state will have its own Resident Engineer.

Since the program does vary from state to state and county to county, be sure to check with your Resident Engineer for specific details about this program. And help “Keep American Beautiful” by donating a little bit of your time.

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