PennDOT is marking the 30th anniversary of its Adopt-A-Highway program.

More than 4,900 groups and 100,000 volunteers participate in the program statewide, collecting litter on more than 10,000 miles of state-maintained roadways.

Be Local means recognizing the 636 volunteers who tend 6,784 miles of state highways throughout Fayette, Greene, Washington and Westmoreland Counties that make up PennDOT’s District 12.

“The selfless actions of our Adopt-A-Highway volunteers has had an incredible impact on the commonwealth and its citizens,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said in a release. “Their efforts have helped present a positive impression of Pennsylvania to visitors for the past 30 years, and we are truly grateful.”

Jan Huzvar, deputy communications director, commented, “There is no doubt that litter is a costly problem for the commonwealth. To have more than 600 people in southwestern Pennsylvania willing to use their time and energy to keep roadways in this beautiful part of the state free of litter is truly commendable.”

Adopt-a-Highway is a means for participants to show they care about their communities.

Not only do they beautify these areas but PennDOT noted the program saves more than $5 million annually that it would have to spend to pick up litter, allowing funds to be redirected toward maintaining safe roadways.

PennDOT explains on its website: “Volunteers beautify roadsides two miles at a time. You or your civic or volunteer group sign a two-year agreement to pick up litter at least two times a year. In return, PennDOT posts recognition signs along the adopted roadway, giving you or your group full credit for your efforts.’’

Participants must be at least eight years old with at least one adult (age 18 or older) per eight minors, who must have parental permission.

PennDOT provides safety vests, trash bags, work gloves, “Litter Crew Ahead” signs (by request) and other equipment as required. PennDOT notifies state police of scheduled events for the participants’ safety and will pick up bagged litter from the roadside.

For those interested, PennDOT offers volunteers the opportunity to add landscaping to their litter collection through the Adopt and Beautify program in which they expand department efforts to cultivate approved plantings.

PennDOT also developed a Pollinator Habitat Plan to create naturalized gardens and meadows planted with pollinator-friendly plants at designated sites in partnership with public and private organizations.

“The gardens can be planted and maintained at a PennDOT-designated pollinator habitat site within the department’s right-of-way property, including at county facilities, interstate rest stops, or approved interchange areas or traffic islands. Individuals or groups such as clubs, schools, churches, businesses, and families may apply to adopt gardens for two-year time frames,’’ the release reported. “In return for their participation, PennDOT posts signs near the garden giving the volunteers credit for their efforts.’’

More information on Pennsylvania’s roadside beautification efforts can be found on www.penndot.gov.

Those interested in joining the Be Local Network can call 724-425-7515 or email swallach@heraldstandard.com. Discount cards are available at the Herald-Standard, 8 E. Church St., Uniontown, and at the Greene County Messenger, 32 Church St., Waynesburg.

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