Almost daily we drive by Adopt-a-Highway signs and think little of them. It’s a community service thing, we think, for fraternities and nonprofits and people who like to volunteer on the weekends.
That’s all well and good, we think, but shouldn’t the state be responsible for maintaining the roads? Why are some people taking custodial duties upon themselves?
Texas started it
Texas gets the credit, according to Wikipedia, for its favored son James Evans, an employee for their department of transportation in the 1980s, seeing a driver toss some litter out the window. Evans decided that the community needed to get involved in caring for what we all take for granted, so he started a movement.
North Carolina sure as heck wasn’t going to be outdone
NC got its chapter of the organization started in 1988, soon after Texas, and the NCDOT website has lots of helpful information.
For starters, adopting a highway is a volunteer action: no donating of funds is involved. Adopting means that you commit to at least quarterly cleanings of a stretch of road no shorter than two miles. You have to clean both sides of the road, the NCDOT will come by to pick up all the trash that you bag, and you have to stick with your adoption for four years.
You didn’t think this was a one-month deal, did you? It’s adoption, man, and that means commitment.
The NCDOT is modern
They have a slick mobile app so that you can fill out a report after every cleaning and prove that you’re fulfilling your end of the bargain. You enter your location, number of volunteers involved, and your contract number so they know it’s you.
If you bag any recycling, you’re responsible for hauling that away (the DOT is busy, okay? How would you like to be responsible for every road in the state?).
Here’s the good news: any organization is allowed to sponsor a stretch of road, no matter how crazy, so if you want The Banana Pancake Flippers to get their name on an official NC sign, you can make it happen. The state provides signs, safety vests, gloves, and bags, so congratulations: you’ve made it.
What’s odd is that adopting a highway falls under North Carolina’s Office of Beautification. We didn’t know that we had one of those. You can browse litter laws, swat a litterbug via an official email to the Colonel of the North Carolina Highway Patrol (no joke), and learn about those wildflowers near certain highway on-ramps and medians.
Sound edifying? It is. Tell us on our Facebook page if you have any experiences adopting roads and maybe we’ll feature you for a story on our blog. Thanks for making our roads cleaner!