Utah DOT Kicks off New Volunteer Litter Removal Program

The Utah Department of Transportation recently launched a new volunteer litter removal program called “Keeping Utah Beautiful” – a program designed to make it easy for members of the public to go online and sign up for a one-time cleanup of state roads.

[Above photo by the Utah DOT]

The agency said these volunteer cleanups will supplement the work of Utah DOT crews who regularly pick up litter statewide. To ensure volunteer safety, “Keeping Utah Beautiful” participants will not clean interstates or some state routes, the Utah DOT stressed – and requires that program volunteers be a minimum of age 14.

The “Keeping Utah Beautiful” program replaces the agency’s Adopt-a-Highway program, though Utah businesses can continue to support the “Sponsor a Highway” program, which hires a professional litter cleaning company to perform pickup along Utah’s interstates.

Utah Governor Spencer Cox (R) helped launch the new litter removal program by cleaning up a stretch of SR-201 near Mountain View Corridor.

“Serving others and giving back is the hallmark of who we are,” the governor said in a statement. “Utah leads the nation each year in volunteerism, and I know many Utahns, including myself, will take advantage of this new opportunity to help maintain the beauty of our state.”

Utah DOT Deputy Director Lisa Wilson added that her agency’s maintenance workers will continue cleaning up litter from interstates and major state roads alongside volunteer groups; an ongoing effort that costs the department an average of $2.3 million per year.

“Keeping litter off our roads not only keeps Utah beautiful, but it keeps Utah safe,” Utah DOT Deputy Director Lisa Wilson said. “This new program will make it easier than ever for Utahns to lend a hand and clean up our roads.”

State departments of transportation across the country are involved in a wide variety of litter removal efforts, as well as public awareness campaigns that seek to eliminate roadway littering – in no small part due to the growing cost of roadside cleanup efforts.

The Ohio Department of Transportation, for example, note that it is now spending $10 million annually to collect trash along state and U.S. routes outside municipalities and all interstates except the Ohio Turnpike.

In addition to Ohio DOT workers and Adopt-A-Highway groups, litter collection in Ohio is also performed along state highways by the following:

  • Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections – Ohio DOT works with 11 institutions on litter pickup along state highways. Since January, their crews collected over 24,000 bags of trash.
  • Interstate Business Solutions – Ohio DOT contracts with them to clean up litter in the state’s metropolitan areas (Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, Akron, Canton, and Youngstown). Since January, the IBS team has collected over 31,343 bags of trash.
  • Center for Employment Opportunities – Ohio DOT contracts with CEO to pick up along roadsides, and to clean encampment areas of unhoused individuals. Since January, the CEO team has collected nearly 25,000 bags of trash.

Meanwhile, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and Missouri Department of Transportation recently wrapped up yearly contests that seek to highlight the issue of roadside littering among elementary through high school aged students.

Oklahoma DOT said the 14 student winners of its 2024 Trash Poster Contest – drawn from a pool of 4,615 entries –receive a monetary award, T-shirt, certificate of recognition, a poster board and a laminated copy of their poster. Additionally, they are awarded sponsor promotional items and a state legislative citation of congratulations.

Concurrently, the Missouri Department of Transportation selected winners of the 2024 “Yes You CAN Make Missouri Litter Free” trash-can-decorating contest.

MoDOT said that it sponsors this contest as part of Missouri’s “No MOre Trash!” campaign to raise awareness about and discourage littering. The competition encourages students from kindergarten through 12th grade to join the fight against litter by decorating and displaying a large trash can with the “No MOre Trash!” logo and a litter-prevention message using a variety of creative art mediums.

New Mexico DOT Launches New DBE Support Program

On May 14, the New Mexico Department of Transportation launched its inaugural Small Business Training and Resources or “STAR” program; a 14-week course designed to provide support and resources for Disadvantaged Business Enterprises or DBEs and other small businesses seeking to work with NMDOT.

[Above image by NMDOT]

The STAR program will guide participants through corrections and improvements to any financial, managerial, technical, or labor conditions which could potentially prevent them from receiving project contracts. The agency added that the program’s “carefully crafted curriculum” is designed to ensure that participants receive a comprehensive learning experience tailored to their unique business needs.

NMDOT noted that its new STAR program is free for all participants and offers a “powerful blend” of expert-led workshops, practical tools, and personalized coaching tailored to propel DBEs and small businesses forward in the government contracting sector.

“Having a program that offers support and essential training to DBEs helps grow our local economy and business community. NMDOT wants small businesses to have more opportunities to partner with NMDOT and in turn, bolster the local business economy,” noted Ricky Serna, NMDOT secretary, in a statement.

The agency said the STAR program includes weekly online sessions, networking opportunities, a supportive environment, personalized coaching, and a professionally filmed and edited marketing video that will help advertise each business to its fullest potential. 

NMDOT pointed out that all small businesses looking to do business with the agency are eligible for this program; with first preference given to New Mexico-certified DBEs certified in the core construction and design category within the North American Industry Classification System.

Environmental News Highlights – May 15, 2024


The National Zero-Emission Freight Corridor Strategy and Plans to Decarbonize Transportation in the US -Logistics Viewpoints

White House uses Infrastructure Week to tout progress on thousands of projects -The Hill

FHWA chief praises Port of Savannah projects to reduce truck pollution -Savannah Morning News

US Republican attorneys general sue to stop EPA’s carbon rule –Reuters

Bike Brands Start To Adopt C-V2X To Warn Cyclists About Cars -Ars Technica

Executive Director of Joint Office of Energy and Transportation Looks for Ideas to Expand E-Mobility -National League of Cities (commentary)


Caltrans Launches Digital Map Highlighting More than 300 Clean California Projects -California DOT

Kansas City wants big federal money for sustainability projects, but it faces tough competition -KCUR Radio

Ohio seeks $189 million in EPA funds to electrify state fleets, retrofit public buildings -Ohio Capital Journal

Even Stock Exhausts Aren’t Safe from NYC Noise Camera Tickets -Road and Track

How Green Transit Technologies Can Shape The Future Of Public Transportation –Forbes



Residents Across Five States Monitor Local Air Quality -The Appalachian Voice

EPA reminds New Englanders to use free air quality monitoring tools this summer -EPA (media release)


New York City Ordered to Fix Broken Pledge to Make Half of Taxis Wheelchair-Accessible -The City


The Father of the 15-Minute City Doubles Down on His Vision –CityLab

VDOT’s living shorelines project at this Boy Scout camp is a conservation success story -Scouting Magazine

You Might Need Your Teen To Translate These Hawaii DOT Highway Signs. (And That’s The Point) -KHNL/KGMB-TV

Sustainability in action at Laurelwood Park -Sound Transit (media release)


City of Belfast, Maine DOT partner to enhance Active Transportation infrastructure -Penobscot Bay Pilot

Chautauqua County, NY to hold Active Transportation Week –Observer

Cyclist safety enhancements coming to Miami-Dade’s most dangerous roadways -WTVJ-TV

Iowa closes “resounding gaps” in state law on crosswalks -Bleeding Heartland

New York City DOT Announces Plan for Secure Bike Parking Network -BoroPark24

Laredo, TX discusses bicycle safety and active transportation -Laredo Morning Times

2025 Transportation Alternatives (TA) Program Funding Available through SDDOT -South Dakota Department of Transportation (media release)


Elevating Community Voices and Environmental Justice in the Transition to Net Zero -National Academies

Addressing Climate Resilience and Greenhouse Gases in the Transportation Planning Process –NCHRP


Call for Nominations for the Scientific Earthquake Studies Advisory Committee -U.S. Geological Survey (Call for nominations)

Ensuring Safe Accommodations for Air Travelers With Disabilities Using Wheelchairs -Office of the Secretary of Transportation (Proposed rule; extension of comment period)

Comment Period, Notice of Public Meeting, and Request for Comment on the Draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment for Drone Package Delivery in North Carolina -FAA (Notice of availability; notice of public meeting; request for comments)

Good Neighbor Environmental Board -EPA (Notice of meeting)