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Adopt-a-Highway volunteers help keep roadways clean and green

April 11, 2014

Motorists asked to be alert, slow down for all roadway workers

It’s that time of year when Wisconsin’s Adopt-a-Highway volunteers can be seen picking up a winter’s worth of trash along state highways. Wisconsin is home to nearly 3,000 groups who are asked to pick up trash along their assigned two-mile segment of state highway at least three times per year. Last year, Wisconsin Adopt-a-Highway workers picked up an estimated 190 tons of trash and recyclables along state roadways.

"Along with helping keep roadsides clean and green, Wisconsin’s dedicated Adopt-a-Highway volunteers make the state an even more attractive destination for travelers while saving taxpayer dollars," said Rose Phetteplace, director of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s (WisDOT) Bureau of Highway Maintenance. "Motorists can do their part by always being alert and slowing down whenever they see people working along our roadways."

Of the 11,800 miles of state highway in Wisconsin, about 8,220 miles or about 70 percent are "adopted." Groups interested in adopting a state highway segment can fill out an application on WisDOT’s website. 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. Trash and recyclables are placed alongside roadways and picked up by county highway workers.

WisDOT offers the following safety tips for Adopt-a-Highway volunteers:

  • Display the "highway worker" signs at both ends of the adopted highway segment to alert motorists that workers are 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 that can’t be identified. 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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