TIME CAPSULE 1985 — On March 9, 1985, the first Adopt-a-Highway sign was erected on Highway 69 in Texas. The program is officially called the Adopt a Highway Litter Removal Service of America (AAHLRSA) and encourages businesses and institutions to volunteer to pick up trash and keep America’s highways clean. The program teams up sponsors and the Department of Transportation (DOT) to keep roadways cleaner and safer.
History.com reported that the idea originally came from an engineer for the Texas DOT James Evans when he noticed trash blowing out of the bed of a pickup truck in Tyler, TX. Evans then started asking people in his community to volunteer to help pick up trash along the side of the highway, but very few people responded. One person who did respond to Evans’ idea was the Public Information officer of the Tyler District of the Texas DOT Billy Black. He helped formulate Evans’ idea into what is now known as the Adopt-a-Highway, complete with training and equipment for those who volunteered.
According to the program’s official website, 49 out of 50 states have some version of the Adopt-a-Highway program. Any group which chooses to sponsor a highway has their name appear on the sign, thus cultivating name-recognition and associating their brand with a green-initiative.
Although the program makes the sponsors look good, it also lends a hand to the DOT in difficult times. According to the Adopt-a-Highway website, “Facing budget cuts and safety issues, states are looking for alternative ways to keep roadways safe.”
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