Arizona DOT Touts Value of ‘Adopt a Highway’ Volunteers

The Arizona Department of Transportation recently noted that its “Adopt a Highway” volunteers continued to make a big difference in terms of litter cleanup along state highways in 2023.

[Above photo by Arizona DOT]

The agency said roughly 850 volunteer groups – comprised of nearly 9,000 individuals – collected over 15,000 bags of roadside litter weighing some 103 tons from state highways mainly outside of Arizona’s metropolitan areas in 2023. The dollar value of that volunteer work equates to roughly $674,000; money the Arizona DOT said can be committed to other critical needs.

“We are so grateful to the many Arizonans who help keep our state grand,” said Mary Currie, Arizona DOT’s Adopt a Highway program manager, in a statement. “Their dedication beautifies state highways that provide a first impression for many visitors and enhances Arizona’s natural beauty.”

She noted that the state’s “Adopt a Highway” groups agree to pick up litter in an adopted stretch at least once per year, though preferably three or more times a year, coordinating with Arizona DOT to arrange for safety vests, litter bags and training for pickup events and then report the results.

State departments of transportation are using a variety of tactics to combat littering on state highways.

For example, the Tennessee Department of Transportation recently expanded the “Youth Group” patch program that is part of its Nobody Trashes Tennessee litter prevention campaign to include Girl Scouts Heart of the South and Girl Scouts of Southern Appalachians. The patch program initially launched in October 2023 with the Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee.

“Girl Scout Troops are highly committed to community service projects and environmental education, and we are thrilled to have participation from all three councils representing the entire state of Tennessee participating in our Nobody Trashes Tennessee patch program,” said Brittany Morris with the Tennessee DOT’s Beautification Office, in a statement.

[Editor’s note: The agency also recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of its “Litter Grant Program.” That program – started in 1983 – provides funding to all 95 counties within the state to pay for a wide variety of litter-related efforts, such enforcement; cleanup and recycling events; and litter prevention education campaigns.]

“Within the first two months of launching the program in Middle Tennessee, we had approximately 1,000 Girl Scouts earn a Nobody Trashes Tennessee patch,” she said. “We are excited to have even more participation from Girl Scouts this year and have numerous ways for them to get involved.”

On another front, to make roadway debris removal operations faster and safer, the South Carolina Department of Transportation started installing “lane blades” on select highway incident response vehicles in 2023.

Meanwhile, the Mississippi Department of Transportation launched a new anti-litter webpage as part of a renewed statewide anti-littering campaign that kicked off in August 2023 – a “one-stop hub” that contains information about the state’s Adopt-a-Highway program, Mississippi litter statistics and resources, stormwater pollution information, anti-litter resources for school teachers, and much more.

And in April 2023, the Illinois Department of Transportation launched a new public outreach effort called “Think Before You Throw!” as part of its ongoing awareness campaign to reduce littering on state highways and roads.

That “Think Before You Throw!” initiative aims to reduce roadside litter along the state’s more than 150,000 miles of roads by raising awareness of the negative environment impact of trash, for both state residents and the nearly 100 million tourists who visit annually, the agency said.

Winners Named in KYTC Adopt-A-Highway Art Contest

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet recently saluted the 12 student winners of its 2023 Adopt-A-Highway Art Contest; winners were chosen from a pool of 900 entries statewide from students aged five to 18.

[Above image by KYTC]

The agency said this annual contest not only allows students to showcase their artistic talents but helps promote the important message of keeping roadsides free of litter.

“We’re thankful to have young and talented Kentuckians lend a hand at sharing an important message to encourage us all to do our part to keep Kentucky beautiful,” said Governor Andy Beshear (D) in a statement.

“Litter-free roadsides do more than protect our scenic byways; they also keep harmful materials from washing off roads and sidewalks and into our drinking water,” added KYTC Secretary Jim Gray. “We’re grateful to have students be part of the solution of maintaining a clean and safe environment.”

KYTC said the top finishers in each of the four age divisions for the 2023 contest – which centered on the theme “Can it, Kentucky” – will receive a $100 gift card, while second- and third place finishers will each receive a $50 gift card. First through third-place recipients for all age groups will have their pieces displayed at the KYTC Office Building in Frankfort, KY.

State departments of transportation across the country use a variety of student-focused contests and programs to engage elementary- through high-school students in roadway litter reduction efforts.

For example, the Missouri Department of Transportation is now accepting entries from students in kindergarten through 12th grade to participate in the agency’s 2024 “Yes You CAN Make Missouri Litter-Free” trash-can-decorating contest.

The contest – part of MoDOT’s annual “No MOre Trash!” statewide litter campaign, held annually in April – encourages school-aged kids to join in the fight against litter by decorating a large trash can with the “No MOre Trash!” logo and a litter prevention message using a variety of creative materials. Schools, or home school programs, may submit one trash can entry in each competition category: grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8 – and new this year is grades 9-12.

First-place winners from each competition category receive $200 awarded to the sponsoring schools. All first-place winners are then eligible for a grand prize of $600 and a trophy awarded to the sponsoring school. There is no entry fee for the contest, MoDOT noted in a statement, and participating school groups must submit a completed entry form online with up to three photos and a release form by March 15.

State DOTs also engage in other initiatives to remove trash and debris from the roadways under their jurisdiction.

For example, the Mississippi Department of Transportation recently launched a new anti-litter webpage as part of a renewed statewide anti-littering campaign that kicked off in August – a “one-stop hub” that contains information about the state’s Adopt-a-Highway program, Mississippi litter statistics and resources, stormwater pollution information, anti-litter resources for school teachers, and much more.

Then there is the Tennessee Department of Transportation, which recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of its “Litter Grant Program.” That program – started in 1983 – provides funding to all 95 counties within the state to pay for a wide variety of litter-related efforts, such enforcement; cleanup and recycling events; and litter prevention education campaigns.

Meanwhile, in April, the Illinois Department of Transportation launched a new public outreach effort called “Think Before You Throw!” as part of its ongoing awareness campaign to reduce littering on state highways and roads.

The “Think Before You Throw!” initiative aims to reduce roadside litter along the state’s more than 150,000 miles of roads by raising awareness of the negative environment impact of trash, for both state residents and the nearly 100 million tourists who visit annually, the agency said.

And, in March, the Maryland Department of Transportation launched “Operation Clean Sweep Maryland,” a new initiative that seeks to nearly double the frequency of litter pickup and mowing efforts along state roads.

This new effort – which began in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., regions – is under the purview of the Maryland State Highway Administration, one of Maryland DOT’s modal divisions.

California Issues $114M for Beautification Projects

Cities and local agencies throughout California recently received $114.5 million in grants to help fund 60 litter removal as well as neighborhoods and public space beautification projects.

[Above photo by Caltrans]

That funding includes $14.5 million set aside specifically to support 18 projects for cleaning transit stations and other areas around the state’s public transportation systems.

Those grants represent the latest round of funding from the “Clean California” initiative; a sweeping billion-dollar multiyear clean-up effort led by the California Department of Transportation, known as Caltrans, to remove trash and help to revitalize public spaces in local communities statewide.

[Editor’s note: Caltrans is also supporting those clean-up and revitalization efforts though a public outreach campaign starring several well-known celebrities; in this case, Fullback Kyle Juszczyk, who plays for the San Francisco 49ers football team.]

According to a statement by the California Governor’s Office, the 60 projects receiving this round of “Clean California” grant funding will improve parks, tribal lands, neighborhoods, transit hubs, walking paths, streets, roadsides, recreation fields, community gathering spots, and places of cultural importance or historical interest in underserved communities.

This funding builds on the nearly $312 million in grants to 126 beautification projects along the state highway system announced by Governor Gavin Newsom (D) in April 2022. Since launching Clean California in July 2021, Caltrans has removed an estimated 1.9 million cubic yards of litter from state highways.

The program has created more than 4,000 jobs that have helped state residents overcome barriers to employment – including 357 people who had been experiencing homelessness – and drawn more than 10,000 volunteers to events ranging from community cleanups to large debris collections for appliances, tires, and mattresses.

Arizona DOT Hosts Highway Litter Cleanup Event

The Arizona Department of Transportation and its “Adopt a Highway” volunteer program recently conducted a roadway trash cleanup event; collecting 214 bags worth of litter from along state highways across Arizona.

[Above photo by the Arizona DOT

Fifteen groups with 123 volunteers answered the call to participate in day-long event on September 16. One of those groups, the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, had seven volunteers fill 13 bags with litter along Oracle Road (State Route 77) on the north side of Oro Valley. 

“It feels good just cleaning up native habitat along the highway and making sure that all the native vegetation has space to grow and that people have a nice place to bike,” said Jonni Zeman, the group’s program and communications coordinator, in a statement. “It’s great to just be here making a difference, even if it’s small.”

Arizona DOT’s Tucson North Motor Vehicle Division office had 12 team members pick up 16 bags of litter along Oracle Road between Ina and Orange Grove roads, while two other team members delivered drinks and collected bags. The office has adopted this segment and will hold cleanups throughout the year.

“It’s just a way for us to connect to the community and be part of it,” said Jessica Robeson, an MVD customer service representative. 

Other state highways where volunteers removed roadside trash included Interstate 19, State Route 260 and US 60. 

This event complements the work of more than 6,000 volunteers participating in Arizona DOT’s Adopt a Highway program who help keep state highways as trash-free as possible throughout the year. In 2022 alone, these volunteers filled more than 12,500 bags of litter while contributing time and effort worth more than $600,000.

State departments of transportation are using a variety of tactics to combat littering on state highways.

For example, the Mississippi Department of Transportation recently launched a new anti-litter webpage as part of a renewed statewide anti-littering campaign that kicked off in August – a “one-stop hub” that contains information about the state’s Adopt-a-Highway program, Mississippi litter statistics and resources, stormwater pollution information, anti-litter resources for school teachers, and much more.

Then there is the Tennessee Department of Transportation, which recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of its “Litter Grant Program.” That program – started in 1983 – provides funding to all 95 counties within the state to pay for a wide variety of litter-related efforts, such as litter and tarp law enforcement; cleanup and recycling events; and litter prevention education campaigns.

Meanwhile, in April, the Illinois Department of Transportation launched a new public outreach effort called “Think Before You Throw!” as part of its ongoing awareness campaign to reduce littering on state highways and roads.

The “Think Before You Throw!” initiative aims to reduce roadside litter along the state’s more than 150,000 miles of roads by raising awareness of the negative environment impact of trash, for both state residents and the nearly 100 million tourists who visit annually, the agency said.

And, in March, the Maryland Department of Transportation launched “Operation Clean Sweep Maryland,” a new initiative that seeks to nearly double the frequency of litter pickup and mowing efforts along state roads.

This new effort – which began in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., regions – is under the purview of the Maryland State Highway Administration, one of Maryland DOT’s modal divisions.

Mississippi DOT Relaunches Anti-Littering Campaign

The Mississippi Department of Transportation recently relaunched a statewide anti-littering campaign, aimed at encouraging Mississippians to put trash where it belongs and recycle whenever possible.

[Above photo by the Mississippi DOT]

The centerpiece of the campaign is a video featuring agency employees – including Mississippi DOT Executive Director Brad White (above) – not only encouraging state residents to put trash where it belongs, but also highlighting the cost of highway litter cleanup efforts.

“Litter is a big problem in Mississippi,” White explained in a statement. “Mississippi DOT spends over $3 million a year picking up litter. This is money that could be used to build and maintain roads and bridges. Let’s all be good stewards of our great state and make the choice to put our trash where it belongs.”

The agency is also launching a new anti-litter webpage as part of its relaunched campaign – a “one-stop hub” that contains information about the state’s Adopt-a-Highway program, Mississippi litter statistics and resources, stormwater pollution information, anti-litter resources for school teachers, and much more.

State departments of transportation are using a variety of tactics to combat littering on state highways.

For example, the Tennessee Department of Transportation recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of its “Litter Grant Program.” That program – started in 1983 – provides funding to all 95 counties within the state to pay for a wide variety of litter-related efforts, such as litter and tarp law enforcement; cleanup and recycling events; and litter prevention education campaigns.

Those funds also help county governments participate in multijurisdictional and statewide collaborations with Tennessee DOT’s “Nobody Trashes Tennessee” litter prevention campaign, conducted jointly with Keep Tennessee Beautiful and its local affiliates.

Meanwhile, in April, the Illinois Department of Transportation launched a new public outreach effort called “Think Before You Throw!” as part of its ongoing awareness campaign to reduce littering on state highways and roads.

The “Think Before You Throw!” initiative aims to reduce roadside litter along the state’s more than 150,000 miles of roads by raising awareness of the negative environment impact of trash, for both state residents and the nearly 100 million tourists who visit annually, the agency said.

And, in March, the Maryland Department of Transportation launched “Operation Clean Sweep Maryland,” a new initiative that seeks to nearly double the frequency of litter pickup and mowing efforts along state roads.

This new effort – which began in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., regions – is under the purview of the Maryland State Highway Administration, one of Maryland DOT’s modal divisions.

WSDOT Salutes 79-Year-Old Adopt A Highway Volunteer

The Washington Department of Transportation recently devoted a blog post to 79-year-old Paul Hampton, who has been cleaning up debris along state roadways as an Adopt-A-Highway volunteer for the last 27 years.

[Above photo by WSDOT]

Hampton originally decided to volunteer his time to pick up litter as part of the Adopt-A-Highway program in his community in 1996 – joining a volunteer litter cleanup crew organized by the Forks Elks Lodge.

Paul Hampton, second from left. Photo by WSDOT.

Hampton moved to Washington State from Florida in 1980 and began getting involved in his local Elks Lodge, attracted to the group’s vision for ongoing community service.

He soon learned about WSDOT’s Adopt-A-Highway program and decided the Forks Elks Lodge needed to adopt a local stretch of highway in town to help keep their little corner of the Evergreen State clean and welcoming to visitors.

“It started as a group of people picking up trash along US 101 in town,” Hampton explained. “Then the local hospital thought it was a good idea to adopt a small stretch too.”

The community soon rallied around the idea of being part of something bigger and committed to routine litter cleanups. Before Hampton knew it, he said people from all across the Olympic Peninsula recognized the value in picking up litter.

“A group of women decided to participate in the Adopt-A-Highway program, so we had a friendly competition going with them too,” he pointed out.

Why do all this? Hampton explained that it’s part of the creed he lives by as a retired Navy veteran and from working for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources – “help people and make the world a better place,” he said.

WSDOT noted that in 2022 alone, agency crews, partners, and volunteers collected 1,402 tons of trash along state highway rights of way – roughly 152,500 bags of litter.

As of July 20, 202023, WSDOT said that – again, along with its partners and volunteers – it has collected 1,800 tons of trash and expects to surpass the total amount of trash gathered in 2022.

Tennessee Litter Grant Program Notches 40 Years

The Tennessee Department of Transportation recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of its “Litter Grant Program.” That program – started in 1983 – provides funding to all 95 counties within the state to pay for a wide variety of litter-related efforts, such as litter and tarp law enforcement; cleanup and recycling events; and litter prevention education campaigns.

[Above photo by Tennessee DOT]

Those funds also help county governments participate in multijurisdictional and statewide collaborations with Tennessee DOT’s “Nobody Trashes Tennessee” litter prevention campaign, conducted jointly with Keep Tennessee Beautiful and its local affiliates.

“[Our] litter grant funding model ensures a comprehensive and collaborative approach to litter abatement and is making a real difference in keeping the state of Tennessee safe and beautiful,” explained Denise Baker, transportation supervisor for the Tennessee DOT, in a statement.

“By providing funding at the county level, communities across the state organize litter cleanups on roadways and river ways based on their specific needs,” she added. “We are thrilled to celebrate the 40th year of the program.”

Collectively, the agency’s litter grant program is responsible for removing an average of 11,243 tons of roadway trash annually and, in 2022 alone, nearly 29 percent of that statewide total was diverted from landfills and recycled. Additionally, 3,480 illegal dumpsites were cleaned up. All told, more than 435,529 tons of litter have been removed from Tennessee roadways since the program’s inception four decades ago, Tennessee DOT said.

The program’s impact is further amplified through local government partners that invest additional resources in trash cleanup and removal, as well as by individuals who contribute tens of thousands of volunteer hours.

This makes the program extremely efficient, saving communities and the state critical funds when compared to the costs of contracted litter pickup. For example, the agency said the 2022 statewide average cost of litter grant-funded cleanup totaled $14.40 per mile, while contracted litter pickup routinely costs Tennessee DOT more than $500 a mile.

On a yearly basis, the agency said it allocated $5.5 million via its Litter Grant Program – a total that has remained the same since 2017. The amount each county receives is based on a formula accounting for population and road miles. The current series of litter grant contracts includes just over $3.8 million for local litter pickup operations and over $1.6 million for litter prevention education.

The Tennessee DOT noted its litter grant contracts require that 20 percent to 35 percent of each county’s total funding is budgeted for litter prevention education efforts. Counties are also required to tackle litter prevention education in three of five designated categories: students, public, media, business, and government.

The grants also fund Keep Tennessee Beautiful, which provides litter prevention education, community engagement, and the promotion of volunteers for beautification projects, the agency said.

Tennessee Study Charts Six Year Drop in Roadway Litter

A study funded by the Tennessee Department of Transportation and Keep Tennessee Beautiful found that, over the last six years, there’s been a 12 percent drop in litter on state roadways.

[Above photo by Tennessee DOT]

The 2022 Tennessee Statewide Litter Study – conducted by engineering firm Burns & McDonnell as a “follow-up “ to similar litter studies in 2016 and 2006 – helps identify how litter has changed over time, the relationship between litter volume and roadside characteristics, and assess the impact of nearby infrastructure and socioeconomic factors.

The study’s methodology included the random selection of 120 roadway locations split equitably among the following four roadway classifications in both urban and rural areas of Tennessee: Interstate, U.S. highway, state highway, and local roads.

The “sampling plan” used by Burns & McDonnell for this study included the investigation of designated litter “hot spots” in the cities of Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga, as well as “at-risk” and “distressed locations” along other roadways statewide.

“The 2022 study is one of several research products that helps [us] evaluate progress on litter abatement and make the most effective use of future litter prevention and cleanup resources,” explained Denise Baker, Tennessee DOT transportation supervisor, in a statement.

“Overall, while encouraging that there has been a 12 percent reduction of litter on Tennessee roadways, there are still more than 88 million pieces of litter on public roads at any given time,” Baker said.

Some of the key findings from Tennessee’s 2022 litter study include:

  • There are roughly 88.5 million pieces of litter on Tennessee roadsides at any given time, down from 100 million in 2016.
  • U.S. highways had the lowest amount of litter-per-mile, at 7,386 items of litter per mile.
  • Local roads – which account for the most road miles (82,538 miles) in Tennessee – in aggregate had the highest percentage (80 percent) of total litter items by roadway type.
  • Most of the litter on Tennessee roadways is smaller than four inches. An estimated 679.7 million pieces, or 88 percent, items of litter were four inches or smaller in size. However, there is still a significant quantity (88.5 million pieces or 12 percent) of larger, and often more visible, litter on Tennessee roadways.
  • Plastic and paper items compose most litter items, while the number of cigarette butts observed per site decreased for interstate and U.S. highway roadway classifications in 2022 versus the 2016 study.
  • Motorists were determined to be the leading sources of litter on Tennessee roadways.

Other state departments of transportation have also conducted or participated in similar roadway litter studies.

For example, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is playing a key role in executing the state’s first ever ‘Litter Action Plan’ unveiled in November 2021; developed after a comprehensive study of roadway litter issues across Pennsylvania.

Subsequently, a group of employees from PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) received a Governor’s Awards for Excellence in recognition of their efforts to develop that Litter Action Plan.

PennDOT said it spends roughly $14 million each year on litter cleanup statewide, while DEP has funded “Pick Up Pennsylvania” community litter cleanups and illegal dump site cleanups for over two decades – supporting volunteers in removing many tons of trash from the land and waters.

The persistence of littering is what prompted PennDOT and DEP to collaborate with Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful to conduct the first comprehensive state study to inform development of the Litter Action Plan, with a focus on changing littering behavior.

Michigan DOT Preps for Spring Highway Cleanings

The Michigan Department of Transportation is preparing to give roadsides along state highways their first full cleanings of 2023 in what the agency said has become an annual “rite of spring” statewide.

[Above photo by the Michigan DOT]

The agency said state workers and members of its Adopt-A-Highway program will pick up litter from along roadsides in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula April 22-30. The first such pickup for roadsides in the Upper Peninsula occurs May 6-14, when spring weather has had “more time to set in” for the northern part of the state.

“Our thousands of Adopt-A-Highway volunteers are dedicated to keeping roadsides in their communities clean,” noted Michigan DOT Acting Director Brad Wieferich in a statement.

“They make a huge difference every year,” he added. “Let’s help them stay safe while they’re out there – keep an eye out for the volunteers and drive cautiously during the pickup periods.”

The agency said its Adopt-A-Highway program, which began in 1990, now includes nearly 2,900 groups that have adopted more than 6,000 miles of state highway. Annually, those volunteers pick up litter three times per year and typically collect 60,000 to 70,000 bags of trash; a service worth an estimated $5 million value yearly for the state.

Several state departments of transportation across the country have already activated similar spring litter cleanup events and public awareness campaigns regarding roadway trash.

The New Jersey Department of Transportation recently initiated a months-long effort aimed at removing debris and sprucing up roadways statewide.

“We will dedicate increased resources to collecting litter, removing graffiti, pruning trees, and mowing grass on the 2,300 miles of state highways,” noted New Jersey DOT Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti in a statement. “NJDOT’s Highway Operations Technicians will be working hard to tackle litter hot spots and keep the shoulders, medians, and ramps on our roadways clean and litter free.”

The Illinois Department of Transportation recently launched a new public outreach effort called “Think Before You Throw!” as part of its ongoing awareness campaign to reduce littering on state highways and roads.

The “Think Before You Throw!” initiative aims to reduce roadside litter along the state’s more than 150,000 miles of roads by raising awareness of the negative environment impact of trash, for both state residents and the nearly 100 million tourists who visit annually.

In March, the Maryland Department of Transportation launched “Operation Clean Sweep Maryland,” a new initiative that will nearly double the frequency of litter pickup and mowing efforts along state roads.

This new effort – which began in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., regions – is under the purview of the Maryland State Highway Administration, one of Maryland DOT’s modal divisions.

Meanwhile, the Tennessee Department of Transportation sponsors an annual litter prevention campaign – called “Nobody Trashes Tennessee” – with Keep Tennessee Beautiful affiliates and Adopt-A-Highway groups.

In November 2022, more than 1,300 volunteers statewide removed more than 48,000 pounds of litter in their communities as part of its month-long “No Trash November” roadway cleanup effort.

Concurrently, in August 2022, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation joined several fellow state agencies to help launch a new anti-litter campaign entitled “PA Fights Dirty: Every Litter Bit Matters.” The creation of this campaign is one of the many recommendations made by Pennsylvania’s first-ever Litter Action Plan, released in December 2021. That plan also won a Pennsylvania Governor’s Awards for Excellence in May 2022.

Illinois DOT Launches ‘Think Before You Throw’ Anti-Littering Effort

The Illinois Department of Transportation has launched a new public outreach effort called “Think Before You Throw!” as part of its ongoing awareness campaign to reduce littering on state highways and roads.

[Above photo by Illinois DOT]

The “Think Before You Throw!” initiative aims to reduce roadside litter along the state’s more than 150,000 miles of roads by raising awareness of the negative environment impact of trash, for both state residents and the nearly 100 million tourists who visit annually.

“As one of the largest landowners in the state, [we] take great pride in making sure we are keeping our state as clean and free of clutter as possible, but we need your help,” said Illinois DOT Secretary Omer Osman in a statement.

“Excess garbage on highways can be easily avoided. Dispose of garbage properly. Make sure loads are properly secured and covered to keep debris and other trash from winding up on the roads,” he added. “Litter has consequences: Think before you throw!”  

With the arrival of spring, the agency said tis highway crews and volunteers will be engaged in litter removal operations statewide until next winter. In 2022, Illinois DOT said it spent approximately $26.5 million picking up litter and removing large debris.

The agency added that its Adopt-A-Highway program aims to offset the negative environmental impact or roadside trash by asking community groups and organizations to help with litter removal on designated state routes. In 2022, those volunteers logged 750 hours while collecting more than 1,700 bags of trash, which included in the items were televisions, toys, and a hand-written note apologizing for eating the last of a box of Twinkies.

State DOTs across the country are involved in a variety of anti-littering and roadside trash cleanup efforts.

In March, the Maryland Department of Transportation launched “Operation Clean Sweep Maryland,” a new initiative that will nearly double the frequency of litter pickup and mowing efforts along state roads.

This new effort – which began in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., regions – is under the purview of the Maryland State Highway Administration, one of Maryland DOT’s modal divisions.

Meanwhile, the Tennessee Department of Transportation sponsors an annual litter prevention campaign – called “Nobody Trashes Tennessee” – with Keep Tennessee Beautiful affiliates and Adopt-A-Highway groups.

In November 2022, more than 1,300 volunteers statewide removed more than 48,000 pounds of litter in their communities as part of its month-long “No Trash November” roadway cleanup effort.

Concurrently, in August 2022, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation joined several fellow state agencies to help launch a new anti-litter campaign entitled “PA Fights Dirty: Every Litter Bit Matters.”

The creation of this campaign is one of the many recommendations made by Pennsylvania’s first-ever Litter Action Plan, released in December 2021. That plan also won a Pennsylvania Governor’s Awards for Excellence in May 2022.

Out west, the California Department of Transportation along with the Sacramento Kings basketball team and more than 35 volunteers recently joined forces to collect and remove litter from Robert T. Matsui Park along the Sacramento River.

Caltrans Director Tony Tavares explained that this cleanup event highlighted how trash and debris pollute Sacramento waterways, including through storm water flows.

That event collected and removed more than 500 pounds of trash from the park, which included things such as broken glass, cigarettes, plastic bottles, and cans, he said.