Q: Does the Magic Valley have the Adopt-A-Highway Program? If so, how do you adopt a highway?
A: “Yes, ITD does have Adopt-A-Highway in the Magic Valley, and it is a great program that assists in maintaining the beauty of our roadways,” said Jessica Williams, a spokeswoman for Idaho Transportation Department District 4.The program was created 28 years ago in the statewide “Idaho is too great to litter” campaign, spurred on by former Gov. Cecil Andrus. On April 30, 1990, the department introduced the Adopt-a-Highway program to help keep the Gem State’s roadsides clean.
“Once a group or individual decides to proceed with the program, a packet will be provided containing additional information and forms that require signature,” Williams said. “Adopt-A-Highway agreements span two year periods and require participants to engage in cleanup efforts at a minimum of twice a year. ITD also provides signage, safety gear, and cleanup bags to volunteers during the term of participation in the program as well.”
The bi-annual clean ups of the two-mile sections occur typically in May and again in October/November.
Because of the hazardous nature of the work, volunteers must obey all laws and regulations relating to safety. Every volunteer group should conduct at least one safety meeting per year.
With spring and Johnny Horizon Day just around the corner, all participants should be informed of the possible presence of dust, exhaust fumes, plant pollen, sprays, etc. Any participant who may have allergic reactions to any of these conditions should be advised to refrain from participating in the litter cleanups. Participants should not pick up syringes, needles, possible drug paraphernalia, dead animals, and materials that appear to be toxic, hazardous, or contaminated with blood or urine. ITD should be notified of the location of these types of items. A first-aid kit and adequate drinking water should be provided.
When participants are under 18 years of age, the volunteer group should furnish supervision by a minimum of one adult for every 10 participants. ITD will remove trash bags from the roadside the first workday following pickup.
ITD estimates that the program saves about $750,000 annually. More than 2.5 million pounds of trash and debris have been removed from Idaho’s roadsides through the program, including the trash pick-up efforts of inmate crews through the Department of Corrections.
There are more than 1,000 active volunteer groups participating in the statewide program. More than half of Idaho’s highways have been adopted. However, there are still many opportunities for other groups and individuals to get involved.
“If an individual or organization is interested in adopting a portion of highway in our area, they are encouraged to contact the District 4 Adopt-A-Highway Coordinator, Wendy Robinson, who will provide them with roadway segments available for adoption,” William said.