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Adopt-A-Highway volunteers sought

Daily Press file photo Members of Boy Scout Troop 411 of Escanaba remove trash along a roadway as part of the state’s Adopt-A-Highway program. The program is beginning soon in the Upper Peninsula and the Michigan Department of Transportation is asking community groups to adopt a section of highway..

LANSING — Volunteers will fan out out across the Upper Peniinula to give state highway roadsides their annual spring-cleaning. Groups in the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Adopt-A-Highway (AAH) program will bwgin -ickups in the Upper Peninsula from May 1 to May 9. Pickups start this weekend in the Lower Peninsula.

“Our thousands of Adopt-A-Highway volunteers deserve thanks for helping to save taxpayer dollars while keeping Michigan roadsides clean,” said State Transportation Director Paul C. Ajegba. “Their community spirit and pride make a huge difference. We ask all motorists to keep an eye out for these volunteers and drive cautiously during the pickup periods.”

Volunteers pick up litter three times each year. Statewide, there will be a summer pickup from July 17 to 25 and a fall pickup from Sept. 25 to Oct. 3.

The AAH program began in Michigan in 1990. Today, around 2,900 groups have adopted more than 6,000 miles of state highway. In a typical year, these volunteers collect 60,000 to 70,000 bags of trash annually, an estimated $5 million value for the state. Last year was anything but typical, though. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the first pickup of 2020 was cancelled. While the summer and fall pickups went forward with COVID precautions in place, groups collected around 20,000 bags of trash. Organizers speculate the numbers were down because fewer groups were able to participate, not necessarily because there was less trash on the highways.

AAH groups wear high-visibility, yellow-green safety vests required by federal regulations when working within a highway right of way. MDOT provides free vests and trash bags, and arranges to haul away the trash. Volunteers include members of various civic groups, businesses and families. Crew members have to be at least 12 years old, and each group must number at least three people. MDOT requires all AAH volunteers to wear a mask outdoors when they are unable to consistently maintain a distance of 6 feet or more from individuals who are not members of their household.

Sections of highway are still available for adoption. Groups are asked to adopt a section for at least two years. AAH signs bearing a group’s name are posted along the stretch of adopted highway. There is no fee to participate.

For more information, go to www.Michigan.gov/AdoptAHighway.

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