What is Adopt-A-Highway and How Does it Keep Litter Off Our Roads

From the majestic Great Smoky Mountains to the lively streets of Nashville, Tennessee’s beauty knows no bounds. However, maintaining this natural splendor requires continuous effort, especially when it comes to keeping litter off the roads. The Adopt-A-Highway program plays a crucial role in preserving Tennessee’s scenic beauty.

The Adopt-A-Highway program is a grassroots initiative that empowers communities and organizations to take ownership of maintaining and cleaning stretches of public roadways. Since the program’s inception in 1989, our volunteers have collected more than 12 million pounds of litter from Tennessee’s roadsides. The concept is simple: volunteers commit to cleaning up a two-mile stretch of highway at least four times a year.

How Does It Work?

Local businesses, community groups, or even individuals can adopt a two-mile stretch of a Tennessee highway. The group signs an agreement with the state’s Department of Transportation, outlining the responsibilities and safety guidelines.

Reducing roadside litter comes with many great perks, including:

  • TDOT will provide volunteers with all necessary supplies and safety materials (trash bags, trash grabbers, gloves, caution signs and class 2 safety vests).
  • Your group name posted on a recognition panel installed below the official Adopt-A-Highway sign.
  • Opportunity to be named Adopt-A-Highway group of the month and receive recognition for your cleanup efforts if your group collects the most garbage in a month. Your cleanup group’s photo could also be featured in your local newspaper.
  • Pride in knowing you are doing your part to help keep Tennessee beautiful.

Benefits of Adopt-A-Highway

Litter Reduction: Cleaner roads not only enhance the aesthetic appeal of the state but also reduce the risk of accidents caused by distractions or debris on the road.

Cost-Efficiency: Adopt-A-Highway programs save taxpayers money. Instead of relying solely on government resources for cleanup, volunteers step in, reducing the financial burden on the state.

Community Engagement: The Adopt-A-Highway program fosters a sense of community and civic responsibility, bringing people together towards a common goal – preserving the beauty of Tennessee.

Environmental Impact: Removing litter from roadsides prevents pollutants from breaking down into harmful microplastics and from entering nearby water bodies and harming wildlife.

Economic Boost: A clean and well-maintained environment not only enhances the overall visitor experience but also creates a positive impression that encourages tourists to return and recommend Tennessee to others. In turn, this contributes to the state’s economic growth

Ready to get involved and keep our roadways beautiful? Here’s how:

  1. Designate a Group Coordinator so TDOT can keep your group updated regularly.
  2. Complete an Application Form and register your group.
  3. Work with a District Coordinator to assign your adopted route.
  4. Add your cleanup to your Event Calendar.
  5. Follow the safety guidelines for litter pickups.
  6. Report your activity so TDOT can pick up the trash your group collected.

Tennessee’s charm lies in its natural beauty, and the Adopt-A-Highway program is a crucial guardian of that beauty. By joining hands with programs like this, organizations like Nobody Trashes Tennessee play a pivotal role in ensuring that our roads stay clean, our landscapes remain unspoiled and our state continues to shine as the gem of the South. Together, we can keep Tennessee beautiful for generations to come.

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