Adopt a Highway sees record number of volunteers

PHOENIX – It was a very good 2019 for the Arizona Department of Transportation’s Adopt a Highway program, with a record number of volunteer groups removing more litter along more miles of state highways, ADOT said in a February 26 press release.

The Adopt a Highway volunteer program, launched in 1998, added 155 volunteer groups last year, bringing the total to more than 1,100. Other 2019 records included nearly 2,000 miles of state highways adopted, an increase of more than 300 miles, and 16,000 bags of litter removed, up nearly 2,000 from the previous record.

“It’s such a positive increase for the state,” said Mary Currie, who manages ADOT Adopt a Highway programs. “Having so many volunteers doing their part to Keep Arizona Grand helps state highways provide a positive first impression for visitors and a nicer experience for everyone.”

The press release went on to say that volunteers also contributed more than 23,000 volunteer labor hours in 2019, an increase of nearly 2,000 hours. The value of all that labor exceeded $580,000. One Adopt a Highway volunteer is Jim Graham, who picks up roadside trash with the Verde Valley Cyclist Coalition between mileposts 356 and 357 of State Route 89A.

“We started doing cleanups because the opportunity was there and because our rides take us along SR 89A, where there was an obvious need,” Graham said in the press release.

Cleaner roadsides are reward enough, Graham said, but his group also gets a kick out of the honks of appreciation from passing motorists.

There’s plenty of opportunity for others to volunteer. ADOT’s Adopt a Highway website at azdot.gov/adoptahighway allows you to see which highway miles are available for adoption by individuals, families, businesses and organizations.

Participants agree to adopt for a minimum of two years and pick up litter, preferably three or more times a year. Adopt a Highway provides safety vests, litter bags and safety training and puts up a sign with the group’s name, ADOT said.

If you’re unable to adopt a highway, you can join the battle against litter by using ADOT’s Litter Hotline to report when you see someone littering from a vehicle on a state highway. It’s easy to make a report by visiting Litter.AZ.gov or by dialing 511 or 877.3LITTER (877.354.8837). ADOT will use your information to send the vehicle’s owner a letter explaining how litter harms Arizona, along with a litter bag.