January 30th, 2012
TALKING TRASHPreserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.
UDOT offers citizens the chance to clean up state roads.
People who participate in the Adopt A Highway program “like it because it’s rewarding and it doesn’t cost anything,” says Ashlee Parrish who coordinates the program in the Salt Lake, Tooele and Summit County. UDOT has six Adopt a Highway Coordinators across the state.
It is free to participate, but when groups clean up roadways, taxpayers benefit. Clearing trash from state roads is labor intensive and time consuming. Volunteer groups that commit to adopt a road segment free up state workers to complete tasks like fixing potholes and repairing roadway safety features. Adopt A Highway crews contribute labor valued at about $ 900 thousand per year, according to UDOT Maintenance Methods Engineer Lynn Bernhard.
Parrish coordinates cleanup efforts of about 100 volunteer groups who commit to remove trash at least three times a year. Road segments are divided into two mile increments. And, according to Parrish there are a lot of segments “that don’t have dibs called on them.” While she has been successful at recruiting groups for the program, she’d like people to know that there is “lots of opportunity out there.”
Getting the word out has been done by word of mouth in the past, but Parrish started a Facebook page that has also helped to bring some groups to the program. She asks groups who have participated in the past to send in photos and tag their friends in the shots. Social media is a good way to create enthusiasm because it allows people to share photos and comments about activities.
Some groups have been active in maintaining the same route for years. The Stockton Ward LDS Youth began volunteering with the program on June 9, 1991. “They adopted SR36 that goes right through Tooele and have done a stellar job keeping it beautiful,” according to Parrish.
Parrish likes seeing clean highways. “I am a crazy litter-hating hippie,” she says, and like other citizens in Utah, appreciates the beauty of the state.
Top 10 reasons to Adopt a Highway:
10. It’s less work than cleaning up after your kids
9. Any change you find on the side of the road is yours to keep
8. Orange vests make a great fashion statement
7. You only have to clean three times a year, but you can brag about it for 730 days
6. It’s another two year commitment you can put on your resume
5. The best time you’ve spent on the side of the road with family and friends since the car broke down in 1989
4. You’ve always said you should spend more time outdoors
3. Nobody likes a dirty road
2. You’re helping keep Utah beautiful
1. It’s the right thing to do
Like Adopt a Utah Highway on Facebook
Community groups who want to participate should contact the nearest Adopt A Highway Coordinator.