In 1984 the idea for the Adopt A Highway program was born when James Evans, an engineer for the Texas Department of Transportation,
witnessed litter blowing out of the back of a pickup truck he was following in Tyler Texas. Concerned about the increasing cost to the
government of keeping roadways clean, Evans began asking community groups to volunteer to pick up trash along designated sections of local state highways.
Evans got few takers for his idea, however, in 1985, Billy Black, the Public Information Officer for the Texas Department of Transportation took up the cause
and organized the first official Adopt A Highway program. In April of 1990, The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) began its Adopt A Highway
(AAH) program. Since 1990, volunteers have been beautifying roadsides two miles at a time.
In 2015, the AAH program had over 3,000 groups adopt almost 15,000 miles of state-owned roadways. Actual 2015 participation resulted in 128,157 volunteers cleaning 14,399 miles of state-owned roadways, resulting in 300,186 bags of trash being collected and removed. BOMO estimates that it would cost $524.07 per mile of roadway adopted using transportation employees and/or contractors, thus realizing an annual savings of approximately $7.4 million dollars using the volunteer AAH program.
Who Can Volunteer?
The Adopt A Highway program allows civic groups, fraternal organizations, religious organizations, charitable organizations, professional organizations, businesses, and families to apply to maintain a section of the Commonwealth's 41,000 miles of highway. If they are accepted, the group signs an agreement making them responsible for cleaning a designated two-mile section of highways and/or intersections four times a year for two years. PennDOT provides each volunteer group with the necessary safety instructions, safety signs, and supplies (gloves, trash bags, and safety vests.) for their roadside litter pick up. PennDOT also erects a special road sign in the litter control area in recognition of their efforts. The sign includes the name of the group responsible for keeping that particular section of road litter free, as well as a brief thank you message.
Adoption Time Length: 2 years
Adoption Area Size and Location: State highway right-of-ways, including interchange areas, traffic islands or two-mile sections of roadway.
Age Requirements: Participants must be 8 years of age or older. There must be at least one adult (18 years of age or older) per eight minors (17 years of age or younger). Minors
must have parental permission.
Pickup Events Per Year: minimum of 2
PennDOT will provide Saftety vests, trash bags, work gloves, "Litter Crew Ahead" signs (when necessary) and other equipment as required by your PennDOT representative.
PennDOT will pick up bagged litter from the roadside and post signs in recognition of your efforts.