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Adopt-a-Highway crews keep roadsides beautiful

May 8, 2013

Motorists encouraged to help ensure their safety while they work

With warmer weather, many of Wisconsin’s volunteer Adopt-a-Highway (AAH) crews have been springing into action, picking up a winter’s worth of unsightly trash along state highways. Along with helping keep our roadsides clean and green, Wisconsin’s dedicated AAH workers make the state an even more attractive destination for travelers while saving taxpayer dollars. In 2012, Wisconsin AAH groups picked up an estimated 180 tons of trash that was then disposed of by county highway crews.

"We appreciate the work of the volunteers in the Adopt-a-Highway program and we count on the civic leadership of local groups and businesses to partner in keeping roadways looking neat throughout the spring, summer and fall seasons," said David Vieth, director of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s (WisDOT) Bureau of Highway Maintenance.

Vieth announced, "Volunteers this spring can now take advantage of viewing a new instruction video, safety facts sheet, and new safety page under Adopt-a-Highway on the WisDOT web site.

There are currently 3,037 registered AAH groups in Wisconsin. AAH volunteers are typically assigned a highway segment approximately two miles long and are asked to make a "clean sweep" at least three times per year between April 1 and November 1. Currently, of the 11,800 miles of state and Interstate highways in Wisconsin, about 8,268 miles are "adopted" meaning about 3,532 miles of state roadways are available.

The process for adopting a highway is easy. Interested groups should identify a roadway segment they would like to adopt and then go to WisDOT’s web site to fill out an application. If the segment is suitable for adoption, it is assigned to the group. Groups do not work in dangerous areas like medians, bridges or steep slopes.

WisDOT furnishes safety vests and "highway worker" signs, a safety training video, trash bags, and two permanent signs identifying the group. Each group must provide one adult supervisor for every five or six volunteers, and all volunteers must be at least 11 years of age or in the 6th grade to work along two-lane highways, 16 years of age to work along multi-lane highways.

"Our Adopt-a-Highway volunteers and county highway department workers do a great job and we truly appreciate their efforts," Vieth said. "Motorists can do their part by staying alert, slowing down and giving the workers a little extra safety cushion when volunteers are cleaning along roadways."

WisDOT offers the following tips for AAH volunteers:

  • Display the "highway worker" signs at both ends of your adopted highway segment to alert motorists that you’re present.
  • Wear appropriate clothing including heavy gloves, sturdy footwear and safety vests.
  • Don’t get too close to roadway pavement or shoulders and stay away from highway medians, steep slopes and bridges.
  • Don’t pick up anything you can’t identify. Potentially hazardous items should be marked with a flag.
  • Ensure that the team leader or someone is carrying a cell phone. In case of an emergency, or to report anything illegal or suspicious, contact law enforcement.

For more information, contact:
Christa Wollenzien, WisDOT Adopt-a-Highway coordinator
(608) 266-3943,



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