How to Adopt a Highway

Adopting a highway to help control the litter on public roads has been around since 1984. The highway litter control effort originated in Texas when a Texas Department of Transportation engineer named James Evans and public information officer named Billy Black became enraged by the amount of litter collecting on the Texas highways. Black made the process of adopting a highway easy with volunteer training, reflective vests, and organized clean-up days. The first volunteers for highway clean up was the Tyler Civitan Club with a section of Highway 69 in Texas. Today the idea of corporations, clubs, and individuals making an effort to clean up their local highways has spread to 49 states, Canada, Puerto Rico, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. More than 90,000 groups know how to adopt a highway and participate. Not only do the groups receive the goodwill advertising on a sign on their section of adopted highway, but they can also realize the personal satisfaction of doing something for the environment.


  1. 1
    Obtain the information on adopting a highway so you can present the facts to your organization.
    • Most adopt-a-highway programs are for 2 to 3 years for 2 mi (3.2 km) of highway. Some areas may have a 1 mi (1.6 km) minimum, while some urban locations are for .5 mi (.8 km).
    • You may have to fill out waivers and permits.
    • A safety briefing for all participants is often required.
    • Most highway adoption programs request that the organization be prepared to pick up litter 4 times a year with a 1 week advance notice to the Department of Transportation so garbage collection can be arranged.
  2. 2
    Go through the appropriate channels to get your organization, family, or cooperation involved in litter control. You may have to present the idea to the CEO or president of your company or organization. You may also be called to present the facts to certain individuals or before the organization, and you may have to wait for a vote to be taken.
    • Be prepared to discuss what section of highway your organization may want for litter control and the time commitment involved.
    • One person will need to be the Department of Transportation's contact person.
  3. 3
    Fill out the application to acquire a section of highway for litter control.
    • Make note of who the contact person is and what his or her phone number is, along with the requested stretch of highway and the name of the organization. Be sure that everything is spelled correctly so that any signs erected will be correct.
  4. 4
    Wait the required number of weeks as the paperwork is processed. This may take up to 4 weeks.


  • Individuals who have been convicted of a violent crime within the last 10 years may not be eligible to adopt a highway. This also includes individuals within an organization.

Article Info

Categories: Environmental Awareness | Volunteer and Community Service