Adopt-a-highway program saving state taxpayers millions of dollars

By KBJR News 1

April 18, 2014 Updated Apr 18, 2014 at 7:57 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - As the snow melts, more than just grass is popping up alongside Minnesota's highways.

"Nobody likes to drive along a road that's got garbage... trash, littering along the way," said County Communications Manager Dana Kazel.

That's what St. Louis County spokespeople hope serves as a call to action for those seeking to bring out the best along the state's roads.

"Some are individuals that may feel a connection to a certain stretch of roadway," added Kazel. "It could be groups that just want to do a service for their community."

About 285 groups have committed to adopting an average of two miles of St. Louis County highway for one reason or another.

For the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District, who adopted a stretch of highway along their frequently used Materials Recovery Center on Rice Lake Road, it's all about going beyond to make sure they're being a good land steward.

"People use that facility and they find it very valuable," said W.L.S.S.D. Community Relations Director Karen Anderson, "but they don't always know that you need to cover your loads up as you're traveling down the road."

It's those routine clean-up efforts, say MNDoT spokespeople, that saved county taxpayers about $6 million in highway maintenance last year.

Without the volunteers, MnDOT Public Affairs Coordinator Beth Petrowske says they'd have to stretch an already tight budget even thinner.

"Either we wouldn't be able to pick up the trash," said Petrowske, "or we'd probably have to hire additional workers."

The adopt-a-highway process is pretty straightforward, and requires a brief run down on rules and safety along the highway. At the end of the day, MnDOT crews even pick up the collected garbage alongside the road once it's bagged.

But this year, Petrowske says highway hopefuls have a new try-before-you-adopt option.

"Do it once, see if they like it, and then either they might be able to adopt that section," said Petrowske, "or take another section someplace else."

Some of the most available highway adoption options are near McGregor, on Highway 65, and Floodwood, on 73.

For more information on the program:

Billy Wagness
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