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Good Question: What does it mean to "adopt" a highway? What does the job entail?

Good Question: What does it mean to "adopt" a highway?
Good Question: What does it mean to "adopt" a highway? 02:52

MINNEAPOLIS — Highway signs come in many colors, but when you see blue in Minnesota, it means everyday people are in charge of keeping it clean.

So how do you "adopt" a highway? And what does the job entail? Good Questions, and as it turns out, some groups have spent more than four decades volunteering.

"We've had folks who've been with the program since it began in 1990," Minnesota Department of Transportation spokesperson Anne Meyer said.

She says the process is quite easy. All you have to do is go to their website. Those who adopt are asked to make a two-year commitment to clean a two-mile section twice a year — often in the spring following the melt, and once more in the fall before snow returns.

More than 1,800 sections are currently adopted, but Meyer says, "Statewide, we have hundreds of open sections available for adoption right now."

That being said, there are certain highways that are off limits for adoption, for things like the amount of traffic they receive, how many lanes there are, and other similar concerns.  


As for who adopts, it ranges from churches to businesses to youth groups.

Doris Sarpong adopted a portion of Highway 36 in Ramsey County. But instead of her name on the sign, it's the name of her daughter Sheron, who died in 2012 at just 24 years old.

"It feels so good because you're doing something for the community, at the same time in memory of your daughter," Doris Sarpong said. "So anytime I'm out there doing it, it reminds me of my daughter and then the people that support us to do it."

Meyer says that MnDOT provides their adopters with the safety vests and trash bags they need. The bags are then left on the side of the road for MnDOT crews to collect.

Having volunteers focus on trash pickup allows MnDOT to focus its time on safety projects, like filling potholes. And even if you don't adopt a highway, you can still help out by simply not littering.

MnDOT isn't the only agency with this program. Several Minnesota counties and cities, like Hennepin County and the City of Minneapolis, let residents adopt portions of highways and streets as well.

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