First Adopt-A-Highway litter pickup in Michigan begins April 17

Contact: Dan Weingarten, MDOT Office of Communications, 906-250-4809
Agency: Transportation

Fast facts:
- The first Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Adopt-A-Highway pickup of the year is April 17-25 for the southern half of the Lower Peninsula.
- Pickups for the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula will be from May 1 to May 9.
- Sections of highway are still available to adopt. Go to www.Michigan.gov/AdoptAHighway for more information.
- MDOT requires all Adopt-A-Highway 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.

April 12, 2021 -- Volunteers will fan out out across lower Michigan to give state highway roadsides their annual spring cleaning beginning Saturday as groups in the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Adopt-A-Highway (AAH) program pick up litter from April 17 to 25.

The first AAH pickup for the northern Lower Peninsula and Upper Peninsula will be later, from May 1 to 9, when spring has had more time to set in.

"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 Adopt-A-Highway 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.

Several landfills in southwestern Michigan are also chipping in to help the AAH program. Westside Landfill in St. Joseph County, C&C Landfill in Calhoun County, Orchard Hill Landfill in Berrien County, Southeast Berrien County Landfill near Niles, and Republic Services Gembrit Circle Transfer Station in Kalamazoo have all agreed to accept trash generated by the three annual AAH pickups at no charge. In exchange, these businesses receive a sign recognizing their support.

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