When you’re cruising around this fine state of ours, making use of the highways and byways, you can’t help but notice the Adopt-a-Highway signs along your journey. Have you ever wondered just where and when the Adopt-a-Highway program began? Or how to adopt one of your own? Well, fear not citizen, we’ve got you covered!
The program got its start way, way, way back in the ’80s (to some of us, that was just 10 years ago, am I right?) when a Texas DOT engineer by the name of James Evans noticed debris flying out of a pickup truck. Rather than simply shrugging his shoulders and going about his day, he was determined to find a way to fund litter cleanup in his state. Cleaning up litter is an expensive task, and people tend to vote for their taxes to be spent in other ways, so Evan sought the help of local groups and organizations who could sponsor the cleaning of sections of the highway.
In 1985, the Tyler Civitan Club became the very first sponsor to agree to quarterly cleanups, adopting 2 miles along U.S. Route 69. The program quickly picked up steam and expanded to 49 states, as well as Puerto Rico, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Japan. Some states, like Nevada, allow both Adopt-a-Highway and Sponsor-a-Highway programs. In both, an organization contributes to highway cleanup, but in slightly different ways. If you adopt a highway, you agree to staff volunteers and personally clean up your section of the highway. If your organization sponsors a highway, you agree to pay professionals to tidy up your section of the highway.
Any organization can participate in the Adopt-a-Highway program, though there are some criteria you must meet:
- An organization is defined as individuals, families, groups, or businesses. However, the organization must be readily identifiable as verified by the Secretary of State.
- You must commit to at least one year of volunteer service with a minimum of litter cleanup four times a year or noxious weed removal two times per year.
- At least 16 years of age, with one or more adult supervisors present.
- Have the ability to complete the work at hand.
- Provide your own transportation and set your own schedule
Every organization will need to select a spokesperson who will be the point of contact and responsible for:
- Assuring participants comply with the Adopt-a-Highway program requirement and safety procedures and have signed a liability release with ODOT.
- Coordinating transportation for participants.
- Picking up and returning all supplies provided by ODOT.
- Notifying ODOT of any flagged items.
If adopting and caring for a slice of Oregon, or any State really, sounds like something you’d be interested in, all the resources you need can be found right here: https://www.oregon.gov/odot/Maintenance/Pages/Adopt-A-Highway.aspx
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