Adopt-a-Highway

Terms and Conditions

General Conditions

1. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is offering for "adoption" certain two-mile sections of state-maintained highways. Before offering these roadways, VDOT determines that they are safe and appropriate for adoption.

2. Under special circumstances, sections of road less than two miles long and dead-end roads may be adopted. Contact the local VDOT Adopt-a-Highway coordinator for details.

3. The local Adopt-a-Highway coordinator is the VDOT contact for adopting groups and individuals. Interested persons and groups should contact the coordinator at the local VDOT residency office listed in the telephone book or online at VDOT Adopt-a-Highway Adoption Coordinators. Information is also available by e-mailing AdoptaHighway@VDOT.Virginia.gov

4. Local businesses, informal groups and formal organizations, such as civic, social or school groups, may adopt highways. VDOT will print the names of the organization or the adopting group in block letters on the blue and white Adopt-a-Highway signs. No slogans or logos are allowed.

5. Individuals 18 years old or older may adopt highways (please see the "Safety Conditions" below for rules regarding participants under 18 years old).

6. Adopting groups agree to pick up litter on both sides of the roadway at least four times a year.

7. Participants adopt for a period of three years, after which they may renew their contract, modify their contract (example: choose a different section of highway), or end their contract.

8. The adopting organization's Contact Person is responsible for ensuring that ANYONE who participates in a pickup under the adopting organization's permit has first received VDOT-supplied safety information, safety vests and trash bags.

9. The organization's Contact Person must visit a VDOT residency or area maintenance headquarters at least a week before a scheduled pickup. At that time, VDOT will supply the Contact Person with safety information, safety vests, and plastic trash bags for every member of the adopting group's cleanup crew.

10. On a group's original application and throughout a group's involvement with the Adopt-a-Highway program, the Contact Person in the group must inform VDOT of the ages of ANYONE under 18 years old who will participate in any of the group's pickups. This requirement includes children of the group's members, or any other children who are allowed by the adopting group to participate in a pickup.

11. The Contact Person also is responsible for notifying VDOT - on the original application and throughout the group's involvement in the adoption - if any of the group's participants has a condition that might necessitate special safety precautions (example: if a pickup participant uses a wheelchair).

12. VDOT will provide the group with large orange mesh "Cleanup Crew Working" signs to place under the Adopt-a-Highway sign during each pick up.

13. VDOT will pay for producing, installing and maintaining the blue Adopt-a-Highway signs.

14. If the adopting group does not plan to dispose of the filled trash bags, the Contact Person must notify the local VDOT office of the date and location of the intended pickup so that VDOT can schedule a work crew to dispose of the trash bags during the following week.

15. VDOT encourages participants to separate and recycle materials.

16. After each pickup, the Contact Person must complete a Pickup Report Card (pre-addressed cards that are furnished by VDOT at the time of adoption) and send it to the local VDOT residency via U.S. mail or online at VDOT Adopt-a-Highway Pickup Report. Pickups can also be reported by calling 1-800-FOR-ROAD (1-800-367-7623) or by e-mailing AdoptaHighway@VDOT.Virginia.gov. When making a Pickup Report, the Contact Person should report the permit number of the adoption, the number of people who participated in the pickup, the number of bags of litter collected, and the number of manhours spent (manhours equals the number of hours taken to complete the pickup multiplied by the number of participants). If a Contact Person is out of Pickup Report Cards, he or she should call the local Adopt-a-Highway coordinator to report the pickup and to order more cards. It is vital that the Contact Person report the pickup so the adopting organization can get proper credit for keeping Virginia beautiful.

17. VDOT encourages Adopt-a-Highway participants to schedule one of their four yearly pickups during April and one pickup in the fall to coincide with the spring "Historic Garden Week" and the autumn "Great State Trash-Off."

18. The Adopt-a-Highway coordinator will monitor the program in his or her area. VDOT reserves the right to deny an adoption request or cancel the adoption permit of any group, individual or business, based on any of these criteria:

A. Concern for the safety of the participants, passing motorists or VDOT employees,  
B. Expenses to VDOT above the normal Adopt-a-Highway program expenses, or
C. Effectiveness of the participants' litter-control efforts.

19. VDOT reserves the right to limit the number of adoptions for a single group and to limit shared adoptions to areas of identified need. For shared adoptions, each group must file a separate permit and participate in four pickups annually.

Safety Conditions

1. Before a group applies to adopt a particular highway, the group's Contact Person should examine the road on the days and during the hours that the group intends to perform pickups to determine if roadside conditions during those times are appropriate for the ages and abilities of the group's members.

Once the group has adopted a particular roadway, if at any time it feel its adopted section of highway has become unsafe for litter pickups, the group's Contact Person must contact the local VDOT Adopt-a-Highway coordinator. Local VDOT residency offices are listed online at VDOT Adopt-a-Highway Adoption Coordinators. VDOT will assign the group a section of roadway with which it is more comfortable.

2. Participants must hold at least one safety meeting per year to review VDOT-supplied safety information. No one may participate in a pickup unless he or she has attended this meeting within the last 12 months. The participating group may hold the safety meeting immediately before a pickup; however, this meeting must be held in a safe, appropriate area, such as a parking lot.

3. The participants are responsible for putting up or opening the "Cleanup Crew Working" signs before each pickup, and for removing or closing the sign after they have finished that day's pickup. These signs alert passing motorists that Adopt-a-Highway volunteers are on the side of the road ahead. If the signs are left open when no pickups are being conducted, motorists will begin to ignore the signs, creating a serious safety risk for Adopt-a-Highway volunteers when they are on the roadside.

4. Adopt-a-Highway groups must provide at least one adult supervisor for every six children under 18 years old. For example: a group of between one and six children would need one supervisor, and a group of between seven and 12 children would need two adult supervisors.

5. For Children Under 10 years old: Groups with participants under 10 years old may adopt highways only when the residency maintenance manager has determined:

(1) That the specified roadway is safe and appropriate for adoption by that particular group, and
(2) That the adopting group and its supervising adults are capable of conducting the pickup in a safe and effective manner.

Refer to the safety guidelines for more details.

Specific Conditions for Adopting Interstate Highways and Highway Interchanges:

Groups or individuals may adopt certain interstate highway interchanges, sections of interstate highways and high-speed primary highways, providing the adoption is specifically approved by the residency maintenance manager, and provided the participants observe the following additional conditions:

1. An interstate highway adoption may consist only of one side of the entire length of an interstate between two distinctly separate interchanges. Adopting both sides of an interstate requires two separate adoptions.

2. Participants must be at least 18 years old.

3. Before the first pickup, the Contact Person must submit in writing, for approval by the residency maintenance manager, the method of conducting the pickup, including: where the participants will park their vehicles (they may not be parked on the interstate shoulder, within the interchange or anywhere within the rights of way of the main road) and the method of disposing of the collected litter.

4. The Contact Person must notify the local Adopt-a-Highway coordinator of an intended pickup at least one week before the pickup.

5. Participants will not pick up litter on any interstate highway median strip.

6. When cleaning an interstate, participants must walk facing traffic, with the highway to the right.

7. Participants will not cross the interstate highway for any reason.

All other rules, conditions and safety precautions listed above are in force for interstate and interchange adoptions.

VDOT reserves the right to revise these conditions as needed.

Page last modified: March 31, 2014