Spring cleaning for the highway

Springtime! A time of melting snow and ... emergence of tons of trash that had been hidden by that snow. Easy to fix on your lawn but have a look along the highways and byways. Horrible and disgusting! It's especially bad after this year of sequestration due to Covid-19. But we can help fix it. That's right, you and I can help!

The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has an army of volunteers to help keep the highways clean through the Adopt-A-Highway program. I'd seen the adoption signs along the highways; I didn't think there were enough adoptions to make a difference until I read that, of the 396,000 bags of trash collected by ODOT in 2018, 16,455 were attributed to Adopt-A-Highway volunteers.

The Adopt-A-Highway program allows volunteers to adopt a two-mile section or interchange along a state, federal or interstate route. ODOT provides safety training, trash bags, disposable safety vests and two signs (stating who adopted the highway) to be used at the beginning of each side of adopted stretch. The only cost to the group is their time.

The program carries the following requirements:

  • Groups are asked to adopt for two years and pick up litter a minimum of four times each year.
  • Participants in Adopt-A-Highway should be volunteers and not paid to pick up litter.
  • Groups can partner with others in adopting but may not pay another group to pick up litter.

For your protection, you need to schedule the times that you want to pick-up at least 48 hours in advance to let ODOT know that pedestrians will be at your selected location. This allows crews time to plan for placing cones then retrieving them along with the bagged trash. A really helpful point is that crews work on Saturdays and Sundays so pick-up can be done when the road is less busy with traffic.

I found Jason Szabo, the program coordinator for the district containing Cuyahoga County, to be very patient and accommodating. Per the terms of the program, volunteers are expected to pick-up and return supplies to the local office but Mr. Szabo offered to meet at a central location since he is often "on the road."

If you hate trash along the roads as much as I do, consider doing something about it! To find out more, visit www.transportation.ohio.gov, and click on Programs to find the Adopt-A-Highway link. There you will find contact information for district coordinators (we are in District 12) and the application, which also has a detailed page of terms and conditions.

Amanda Sebrosky

Resident of Bay Village for about 30+ years. Founder of Northeast Ohio Chimney Swift Conservation Society. Volunteers at Cleveland Metroparks, Lake Erie Nature and Science Center, Lights Out Cleveland and with animal rescue groups. BA in Biology from CWRU. MS in Urban Studies, Environmental track from CSU, RN from CCC.

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Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 10:35 AM, 04.06.2021