Volunteers sought to help adopt a highway

Published 9:53 am Friday, May 1, 2015

Even though Earth Day has passed, there are many opportunities for southeastern Minnesota residents to do their part to keep their communities clean.

On state highways there are open segments available for volunteers to clean up trash. Statewide volunteers helping with the Adopt a Highway program picked up 970,000 pounds — more than 100 dump truck loads — of litter in 2014, saving the state an estimated $7 million, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

In southeastern Minnesota there are 663 volunteer groups who help clean the highways. But there are still opportunities to adopt a highway. There are 61 segments available in southeastern Minnesota.

Email newsletter signup

The Adopt a Highway program is staffed by more than 48,000 volunteers representing schools, businesses, non-profits, families and individuals who are helping to clean up more than 10,000 linear miles of Minnesota’s highways.

Many of the volunteer groups have been picking up trash since the program began in 1990. In 2014, volunteers spent more than 190,000 hours cleaning up Minnesota’s roadways.

“They volunteer to pick up for many reasons, most take great pride in keeping our highways clean and beautiful,” said Ernest Lloyd, Adopt a Highway program administrator. “Because of volunteers’ contributions, our crews can spend more time on crucial elements of highway safety. They can fix potholes and work on guardrail repair.”

Even with these great efforts, MnDOT is looking for more volunteers to help with this public service campaign, Lloyd said. To become part of the program, the volunteer groups agree to:

• Adopt a highway for a minimum of two years

• Select a segment of highway approximately two miles in length (Note: only select sections of state highways are available for adoption due to safety concerns).

• Pick up litter on both sides of the highway.

• Pick up litter as often as needed from spring through fall, usually two to three times.

MnDOT provides a safety video, trash bags for cleanup and safety vests for each volunteer. The high-visibility color and reflective tape make litter crews more visible to passing motorists.

After the group completes its cleanup, MnDOT crews pick up the filled bags and large, heavy or hazardous items from the roadside. State workers, not volunteers, are responsible for litter pickup along the interstate.

Another Adopt a Highway option is “Pick A Highway,” which allows an individual, family, business or group the option of trying out the program with a one-time pickup of litter along an unadopted section of state highway.

Those interested in participating in the program can visit www.mndot.gov/adopt/contacts.html for local contact information.