Adopt a Highway

Adopting a Highway: Top 10 questions answered

Adopting a Highway: Top 10 questions answered

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Adopting a Highway: Top 10 questions answered

Adopting a Highway: Top 10 questions answered

By Mary Currie / ADOT Communications
July 27, 2022

Traveling through Arizona, you may have noticed Adopt a Highway recognition signs dotted along the highway. Well, if you have ever wondered what those signs are all about, we’ve answered some of the frequently asked questions here:

No. 1 What is the cost to participate in the volunteer program? 

There is no cost to participate. ADOT will install a recognition sign displaying the name of the volunteer group at each end of the segment after receiving the group’s first documented litter cleanup. 

No. 2 Do the people who adopt it actually pick up the trash?

Volunteer permits are granted to families, individuals, companies and organizations that tend to an adopted segment. The volunteer group leader reports litter pickups to ADOT as part of the permit agreement. 

No. 3 Why is it important to report litter bag totals to ADOT

Trash data is well, a bit like finding gold for us here at the Adopt a Highway office. Information collected from the efforts of 7,441 volunteers helps us understand how much litter is picked-up each year along highways in Arizona, as shown in the infographic on the right. Volunteer participation is what makes this program successful and helps keep Arizona grand!

No. 4 How often do I have to clean the area? 

Volunteers agree to clean adopted segments at least one time per year although many volunteer groups clean quarterly or more often than that. 

No. 5 What about the recyclables?

If you choose to collect recyclable items, bring your own bags to fill and haul them away along with your volunteers after the cleanup. 

No. 6 Does ADOT provide equipment to volunteers?

ADOT provides contact information and instructions for volunteers to pick up bags and safety vests prior to each cleanup. Be sure to plan two weeks ahead by contacting your district to reserve these items to ensure we have plenty in stock. Volunteers may choose to bring their own ANSI Class 2 safety vests, gloves and pick up sticks.

No. 7 Who picks up the filled trash bags?

ADOT maintenance crews pick up filled volunteer trash bags after the cleanup and dispose of them. 

No. 8 Can any section of highway be adopted? 

Not quite. Adoptable highway segments are approved by ADOT for the safety of our volunteers. We want to be sure that dedicated volunteer segments have adequate parking in a safe location.

No. 9 Who can adopt a highway?

ADOT welcomes civic-minded individuals and groups that are interested in collecting litter on an adopted segment of state highway in Arizona. We have thousands of miles to choose from. Contact us and a local permit technician will help you find a segment near or as close to your desired location as possible. 

No. 10 Is that it? 

Pretty much—that’s the big stuff. For more answers and steps to get started click here

Adopt a Highway: Volunteer safety in Arizona, the heat is on!

Adopt a Highway: Volunteer safety in Arizona, the heat is on!

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Adopt a Highway: Volunteer safety in Arizona, the heat is on!

Adopt a Highway: Volunteer safety in Arizona, the heat is on!

By Mary Currie / ADOT Communications
June 21, 2022

Mother Nature wasted no time testing three digit temperatures as the month of May had barely faded from sight.

June 21 is the official first day of summer and with that brings an added layer of safety for Adopt a Highway volunteers to consider. Groups who begin cleanup events as early as sunrise to avoid the direct sun and heat are vulnerable to the elements as well. As Arizonans we’ve come to expect those 100 degree overnight temperatures in areas of the state.

With that in mind ADOT launched a new safety briefing video for individuals preparing to head out on a cleanup activity. The safety briefing is a requirement for all volunteers, but it is really much more than that. 

The video has a new vibe and is packed with safety recommendations designed to impart knowledge about situations that may be encountered while volunteering in ADOT right of way. It is a shortened version and designed to educate with a smile.

In fact, whether you are collecting litter as a volunteer or traveling state roadways this summer we want you to be prepared for the elements or an emergency that you may encounter. Severe weather is ‘a thing’, so check out the page for bite-sized information that may come in handy when you least expect it.

Littering is getting worse as evidenced by the increase in litter data collected by ADOT. We  appreciate the choice our volunteers make to improve their community and help keep Arizona Grand. If you would like information on getting started in the program, visit Adopt a Highway.

If you live in Phoenix and want to help reduce litter in your neighborhood, please visit  My Beautiful Phoenix hosted by Keep Phoenix Beautiful. 

Arizona, Keep It Grand!

Adopt a Highway: Heat awareness tips for volunteers and travelers

Adopt a Highway: Heat awareness tips for volunteers and travelers

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Adopt a Highway: Heat awareness tips for volunteers and travelers

Adopt a Highway: Heat awareness tips for volunteers and travelers

By Mary Currie / ADOT Communications
May 25, 2022

The heat is officially "on" and this means increased safety measures for volunteers, or anyone working outside, as temperatures rise. 

Here at ADOT, we have a few suggestions for Adopt a Highway volunteers to consider before heading out to collect litter, but, really, this guidance applies to any traveler or anyone planning to exert themselves outdoors for a period of time. If you are new to Arizone, "Welcome!"

ADOT volunteers are devoted to collecting litter year 'round and developed these tips so they can be prepared when they head out to collect trash along the highway. 

  • Consider a morning cleanup event before the temperature increases. Successful volunteer groups ensure volunteers are hydrated and have access to water. The temperature may feel cool, but staying hydrated is important when exerting yourself no matter the temperature.
  • Set a reasonable time for your group to work at your adopted segment and stick to it. Temperatures rise quickly in the southwest, especially at lower altitudes. Plan on wrapping up after an hour or two and, when possible, plan more frequent shorter cleanup events at the site.
  • The Arizona sun is intense. Even with cloud cover. Consider wearing sunscreen, a hat, long sleeves and long pants to keep your skin from burning. Make sure cell phones are charged and that you know where the nearest hospital is to your adopted segment in case of an emergency.
  • Pack plenty of snacks and water for volunteers. Be sure each volunteer receives a safety briefing before heading out to pick up trash.
  • Whether collecting trash along the highway or enjoying other outdoor activities, please be safety conscious and aware of the heat.

ADOT appreciates all of our volunteers and travelers who help keep Arizona grand by securing their trash and truck loads. Enjoy your summer safely.

If you would like more information about adopting a section of highway near you check out the website here, Adopt a Highway Programs. Contact Tucson Clean & Beautiful and Keep Phoenix Beautiful for opportunities to make a positive impact in your hometown.

A big ‘Thank You’ to our awesome Adopt a Highway volunteers!

A big ‘Thank You’ to our awesome Adopt a Highway volunteers!

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A big ‘Thank You’ to our awesome Adopt a Highway volunteers!

A big ‘Thank You’ to our awesome Adopt a Highway volunteers!

By Ryan Harding / ADOT Communications
April 20, 2022

Here at ADOT, we are always grateful for our Adopt a Highway volunteers and the work they do to help keep Arizona’s highways clean. But since it is National Volunteer Week this week, it gives us a special opportunity to say “thank you” and recognize our amazing volunteers.

Through our Adopt a Highway Volunteer Program, 1,002 volunteer groups made up of 7,441 volunteers have helped to clean up nearly 2,000 miles of state highways last year. Through their efforts, more than 14,300 bags of trash were collected in 2021. That’s a lot of litter!

While ADOT maintenance personnel are available to remove litter as part of their duties, their primary responsibility is to safety-related work such as guardrail repair, pavement maintenance and right-of-way fence repairs to keep livestock off roadways.

That’s why we are so grateful for our volunteers.

So, to our Adopt a Highway volunteers: thank you for giving your time and energy to clean up litter and trash along the highways. Because of your selflessness and commitment to the beautification of our state, each of you help us keep Arizona grand!

SR 286 All the Way to the Border Cleanup Event

Adopt a Highway: Arizona Game and Fish volunteers preserve highway habitat

Adopt a Highway: Arizona Game and Fish volunteers preserve highway habitat

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Adopt a Highway: Arizona Game and Fish volunteers preserve highway habitat

Adopt a Highway: Arizona Game and Fish volunteers preserve highway habitat

By Mary Currie / ADOT Communications
March 21, 2022

AJ Lander and Noah Silva were recognized for their volunteer service earlier this year when they each received a "Keep it Grand" lapel pin for participating in a highway cleanup in January.

Lander and Silva were collecting litter in 40-gallon trash bags along a stretch of State Route 286, about halfway between Three Points and Sasabe at the Arizona-Mexico border, when they were spotted by Mary Currie, who manages the Adopt a Highway program for ADOT and was driving through the area.

The wildlife managers — and volunteers that day — had returned for the third year to participate in the “All the Way to the Border” cleanup event on Jan. 29 led by Melissa Owen, a local ranch owner.

The highway creates a boundary between Silva’s managed area to the east and Lander’s area to the west. Silva enjoys helping clean up the environment. “It's a good thing, giving back," he said. "We work with land owners on each side of this highway."

Lander added that this is all about habitat improvements and natural resource conservation. “It may just be the shoulder of the highway, but it is still a natural area. This is our home.” 

“ADOT appreciates these two Arizona Game and Fish volunteers, whose service contributed to the removal of 211 bags of trash from alongside the highway,” Currie said. “When Lander said, 'this is our home,' it really resonated with me. Volunteers are helping to protect the homes of human and wild creatures alike by removing litter.”

SR 286 passes through Arizona’s high desert and the protected area of the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. Plastics, glass shards and other forms of litter pose a real danger to deer, pronghorn and other wildlife. 

If you are interested in becoming one of the thousands of dedicated volunteers keeping our highways clean and safe visit the Adopt a Highway webpage to get started.

ADOT crews cleared more than 800 tons of litter in Maricopa County in 2021

ADOT crews cleared more than 800 tons of litter in Maricopa County in 2021

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ADOT crews cleared more than 800 tons of litter in Maricopa County in 2021

ADOT crews cleared more than 800 tons of litter in Maricopa County in 2021

By Ryan Harding / ADOT Communications
March 16, 2022

Can you imagine 800 tons of anything? Eight-hundred tons of African elephants would be about 114 of the massive mammals.

Eight-hundred tons is also how much litter and trash ADOT maintenance crews collected in 2021 along Maricopa County freeways. That’s a lot of litter and also a 47% increase in the amount of litter picked up in 2017.

Each week, ADOT maintenance crews are able to clean about 250 miles along the freeway system, thanks to funding from the Maricopa Association of Governments. Nevertheless, the amount of litter and trash increases along Valley freeways year after year. 

ADOT’s Incident Response Unit, sponsored by State Farm, responds to an average of 26 calls per week for debris blocking the highway. In fact, one-third of all the calls the IRU receives are for litter and debris obstructing highway travel lanes.

Recently in Tucson, ADOT maintenance crews from Casa Grande to Nogales banded together to pick up 44,000 pounds of trash along 25 miles of highways, working along I-10 from Ina to Valencia roads, and along I-19 from I-10 to Valencia Roads. 

While ADOT maintenance personnel are available to remove litter as part of their duties, their primary responsibility is to safety-related work such as guardrail repair, pavement maintenance and right-of-way fence repairs to keep livestock off roadways. 

But here’s the thing: this problem is entirely preventable by keeping litter in your vehicle until you get to your destination and securing your load. Tossing burger wrappers, paper cups and cigarette butts out of the window, while all seemingly small and insignificant items, build up over time and create safety issues.  

Trash build-up can also clog drainage systems and lead to water pooling on roadways. And large debris that falls onto roadways can be hazardous as drivers swerve to avoid the items.

So, let’s leave the items that can be measured in tons to large land animals. By securing your loads and keeping trash in your vehicle until you can throw it away at a stop or destination, you can help make a huge dent in the amount of trash collecting alongside our highways, clogging drainage systems and marring landscapes. 

To find out more about ADOT’s Adopt a Highway program and litter, visit azdot.gov/adoptahighway

'All the Way to the Border' cleanup attracts national attention

'All the Way to the Border' cleanup attracts national attention

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'All the Way to the Border' cleanup attracts national attention

'All the Way to the Border' cleanup attracts national attention

By Mary Currie / ADOT Communications
March 7, 2022

Melissa Owen's annual "All the Way to the Border" cleanup celebrated a comeback as 101 volunteers returned to collect litter along 45 miles of State Route 286, between Three Points at State Route 86 to Sasabe at the Arizona-Mexico border. The event, which occurred on Jan. 29, continues to grow and capture a diverse group of supporters from the local communities and beyond.

Thirty-seven volunteers attended a safety briefing on Saturday morning at the Robles Ranch Civic Center in Three Points while an additional 64 volunteers, briefed earlier, were already collecting litter at adopted or designated mileposts along the southernmost half of the stretch.  

Owen, a local ranch owner, greeted volunteers and gathered the crowd to conduct a short business and safety meeting. Her leadership and tremendous hospitality is what brings volunteers from this community back each year. 

Sarah King and Julia Sittig from Altar Valley Conservation Alliance were recipients of a prestigious Golden Grabber award for event logistical assistance. Roberta Lopez-Sutter from TRICO Electric Cooperative received a prized grabber as well for providing event support. 

After the meeting, I caught up with a few volunteers along the route. Neighbors Jean and Edna, who winter at a nearby Caballero Loco Ranch, shared a bit of volunteer philosophy with me. Jean told me there were about 18 other ranch residents cleaning up along the route further south. “We love to see the highways clean and it's such a small thing for us to do to help out.”

“And we get to have fun and visit while we’re doing it!” Edna chimed.

At day's end, 219 trash bags had been filled, totalling about 1.5 tons of roadside litter and other debris too large to place in bags. The volunteer count and trash totals made the 2022 event the largest and most successful to date. 

The regionally famous and much-coveted Trashiest Piece of Trash award went to John Durham, the finder of a $5 bill. “It pays to volunteer," he said.

Owen's final report mentions participants Phoenix, Louisiana, Nevada and Rhode Island.

“Many thanks to Altar Valley Middle School, Tucson Samaritans, Humane Borders and Rancho Sierra Vista de Sasabe who all have adopted miles," Owen said. "Special thanks also go out to Robles Junction Civic Center and all our ADOT Heroes.” 

"All the Way to the Border" welcomes new volunteers to adopt available segments along SR 286 as a one-day permit or a standard two-year permit. Groups adopting for two years receive recognition signs installed near each end of the segment, after the first cleanup is reported. For more information, about adopting a segment of highway, visit our Adopt a Highway page.

Volunteers Return to Highway Cleanups in 2021

Volunteers Return to Highway Cleanups in 2021

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Volunteers Return to Highway Cleanups in 2021

Volunteers Return to Highway Cleanups in 2021

By Mary Currie / ADOT Communications
March 1, 2022

Volunteer group leaders and the generous individuals they lead promote a valuable service that supports the preservation of roadside beauty in Arizona. 

Last year, volunteers came back in full force to their adopted segments. Friends, family and neighbors gathered to help reduce litter. Adopt a Highway volunteers joined thousands on National CleanUp Day, including a group who came out for the day in Prescott Valley.

Without further ado, I am pleased to report a significant increase in volunteer activity in 2021 over the previous year. More than 7,400 volunteers collected 14,400 bags or 197,000 pounds of trash from along state highways. That's about 89,000 more pounds of trash than was collected the previous year.

A well deserved "thank you" to our long-time volunteers and the many new volunteer friends who contributed to the reduction in roadside litter. The sum of each bag collected and recorded produced a positive result for travelers, wildlife and the environment.

Data collected from group leaders after each event in 2021 revealed the number of bags collected, volunteers participating and hours spent collecting litter. The information provided by volunteers allows ADOT to measure the accomplishments of volunteers. ADOT shares that information with the public and with other states and organizations that manage similar litter reduction operations to  improve trash collection programs.

Due to the reduction in volunteer activity and the department's ability to secure prison labor since 2020, public litter complaints have skyrocketed. The unfortunate act of littering continues as ADOT helped to address a preventable problem. Recently, a major litter removal project was conducted in Tucson and similar projects in other locations along the state highway system.   

Thank you for your continued support or considering ADOT as an opportunity to unite and reduce litter along our highways. Visit Adopt a Highway for a step by step on getting involved.

If you live near Phoenix and would like to help reduce litter in your neighborhood, please visit  My Beautiful Phoenix hosted by Keep Phoenix Beautiful. Tucson residents may contact Tucson Clean and Beautiful to get involved in local volunteer cleanup activities. The Maricopa Association of Governments' Don't Trash Arizona program was implemented in collaboration with the Arizona Department of Transportation to address the environmental, economic, safety and health impacts of freeway litter along regional and state highways.

Arizona, Keep It Grand!

Major litter removal project removes 44,000 lbs. of trash in Tucson

Major litter removal project removes 44,000 lbs. of trash in Tucson

I-17 101 traffic interchange

Major litter removal project removes 44,000 lbs. of trash in Tucson

Major litter removal project removes 44,000 lbs. of trash in Tucson

February 16, 2022

Cleanup involved trash of all kinds and sizes

 

TUCSON - A major litter cleanup project in the Tucson area has removed 44,000 pounds of trash from Interstates 10 and 19 in the Tucson area as part of the Arizona Department of Transportation’s ongoing efforts to keep highways clean.

The cleanup involved trash of all kinds and sizes. From plastic bottles and paper to shopping carts, tires and carpeting, the four-day effort deployed 45 ADOT maintenance crews from as far as Casa Grande and Nogales.

The cleanup took place along about 25 miles of highways, working along I-10 from Ina to Valencia roads, and along I-19 from I-10 to Valencia Roads.

A cleanup of this size is not routine in the Tucson area, as ADOT traditionally gets extensive assistance from volunteer groups who participate in the Adopt A Highway program, along with state prison inmate crews. However, those crews have been mostly unavailable for about two years due to COVID-19 restrictions in prison complexes. While ADOT maintenance personnel are available to remove litter as part of their duties, their primary responsibility is to safety-related work such as guardrail repair, pavement maintenance and right-of-way fence repairs to keep livestock off roadways.

The litter problem is entirely preventable, and because of that, ADOT is urging drivers to help keep the state’s highways pristine. The trash builds up piece by piece as drivers toss items out of their cars or when drivers don’t secure their loads and debris flies out of trucks. 

This problem is more than about aesthetics. Trash that builds up can clog drainage systems and lead to water pooling on roadways. And large debris that falls onto roadways can be hazardous as drivers serve to avoid the items.

For more information about the ADOT Adopt a Highway program, please visit azdot.gov.

Need a holiday gift? ADOT has you covered!

Need a holiday gift? ADOT has you covered!

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Need a holiday gift? ADOT has you covered!

Need a holiday gift? ADOT has you covered!

By Laurie Merrill / ADOT Communications
December 21, 2021

Have you finished your holiday shopping?

If you’re like me, you might be waiting until the last minute to purchase the perfect present.

Well, fellow holiday procrastinators, I have a tip for finding the go-to gift: ADOT.

Seriously, don't laugh.

ADOT can be your one-stop, online shopping destination. ADOT has plenty of ideas for everyone on your list. Best of all, everything can be purchased online.

Here are some of the ADOT options:

  1. You can give the gift of togetherness by signing up for the Adopt-A-Highway program and even get a sign with the name of your choice. More importantly, you are bringing together friends and family to build memories, while performing a valuable community service.
  2. Anyone who appreciates stunning photography will enjoy a subscription to the 
    Adopt a Highway
     award-winning Arizona Highways Magazine. Or perhaps one of an array of unique gifts, such as gorgeous calendars, jewelry, ornaments, books and more offered by the Arizona Highways Store. Whether your recipient is an ardent traveler, history buff or just loves thumbing through glossy pages filled with Arizona beauty, these are ideal presents. Plus, there is an Arizona Highways specialty plate if you want to go all out!
  3. If you have children who love science, engineering or anything on four wheels, you could consider the gift of education and fun by making regular visits to the ADOT Kids website. Created to spark children’s imaginations and curiosity about what makes things go, how bridges are built, how vehicles work and more, it offers activity sheets, videos, quizzes, maze challenges and more. Want to know about snowplows? Highway signs? Engineering paths? It's all on ADOT Kids.
  4. Okay, maybe these don’t really into the holiday present category, but they are free and will save you tons of time on highways. Download the ADOT Alerts and AZ511 apps today or anytime during the holidays and get the gift of avoiding road closures, crashes and other emergency events.
  5. The last gift idea is the most precious. If you haven't already, considering registering to become an organ and tissue donor with the Donor Network of Arizona. The ADOT Motor Vehicle Division partners with the Donor Network of Arizona to allow people to register as donors when they apply for or renew a driver license.

Shopping with ADOT is convenient and offers some interesting, thoughtful and, potentially, life-saving gifts. In fact, during a break from writing this blog, I ordered a Arizona Highways calendar for one one my friends who has everything.  

For more blogs on ADOT holiday gifts: