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DOT seeks care for 'orphan' highways

As most of winter's snows have melted from alongside Wisconsin's highways, motorists are being greeted not just by spring wild flowers, but a winter's worth of unsightly trash. But for thousands of miles of state highway, they won't be unsightly ...

As most of winter's snows have melted from alongside Wisconsin's highways, motorists are being greeted not just by spring wild flowers, but a winter's worth of unsightly trash. But for thousands of miles of state highway, they won't be unsightly much longer. That's because Wisconsin's Adopt-a-Highway crews are gearing up for their first foray to spruce up the state's roadways.

More and more, Wisconsin counts on the civic leadership of local groups who adopt highways and agree to keep them neat throughout the spring, summer and fall.

"Currently, 3,055 groups have signed up to pick up litter on two-mile segments of highway at least three times per year between April 1 and Nov. 1," said Jim Merriman, who oversees the state's Adopt-a-Highway program. "Those groups clean more than 8,400 miles of highway each year."

Merriman noted, however, there are nearly 33,300 miles of state and Interstate highways in the state, meaning there are at least another 24,900 miles available for "adoption."

The process for adopting a highway is easy. Interested groups should identify a segment of the road they would like to adopt and then go to WisDOT's Web site, www.dot.wisconsin.gov to fill out an application. If the segment is not already adopted and is suitable for adoption, it is assigned to the group. Groups do not work in dangerous areas like medians, bridges, or steep slopes.

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The department furnishes safety vests and signs, a safety training video, trash bags, and two signs identifying your group.

Each group must provide one adult supervisor for every five or six volunteers, and all volunteers must be at least 11 years of age or in the 6th grade to work along two-lane highways; 16 to work along multi-lane highways.

"We really rely on these groups to help keep our roadsides looking nice and we appreciate their efforts," Merriman said. "... it saves precious tax dollars to have these volunteers cleaning our roadsides."

Related Topics: SUPERIOR
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