Motorists should be watchful, thankful for Adopt-a-Highway crews

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Motorists are asked to keep an eye out for Wisconsin Adopt-a-Highway volunteers as they pick up a winter’s worth of trash along state highways. Wisconsin is home to nearly 3,000 groups who are asked to clean-up their assigned two-mile state highway segment at least three times per year. Last year, Wisconsin Adopt-a-Highway workers picked up an estimated 190 tons of trash and recyclables along state roadways.

“We ask that motorists be watchful for all roadside workers including Wisconsin’s Adopt-a-Highway volunteers whose efforts save taxpayer dollars and make our state an attractive place to live or visit,” said Rose Phetteplace, director of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s (WisDOT) Bureau of Highway Maintenance.

Of the 11,800 miles of state highway in Wisconsin, about 8,170 miles or about 70 percent are adopted. Groups interested in adopting a state highway segment can fill out an application on WisDOT’s website (www.dot.wisconsin.gov/localgov/aid/adopt-a-highway.htm).

WisDOT furnishes safety vests and highway worker signs, a safety training video, trash bags, and two permanent signs identifying the group. Each group must provide one adult supervisor for every five or six volunteers. Volunteers must be at least 11 years old or in the 6th grade to work along two-lane highways and at least 16 years old to work along multi-lane highways. Groups do not work in dangerous areas like medians, bridges or steep slopes. Trash and recyclables are placed along roadways and picked up by county highway workers.

Along with asking motorists to be cautious, WisDOT offers the following safety tips for Adopt-a-Highway volunteers:

·         Display the “highway worker” signs at both ends of the adopted highway segment to alert motorists that workers are present.

·         Wear appropriate clothing including heavy gloves, sturdy footwear and safety vests.

·         Don’t get too close to roadway pavement or shoulders and stay away from highway medians, steep slopes and bridges.

·         Don’t pick up anything that can’t be identified. Potentially hazardous items should be marked with a flag.

·         Ensure that the team leader or someone is carrying a cell phone. In case of an emergency, or to report anything illegal or suspicious, contact law enforcement.

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