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Fast Facts : Adopt-a-Highway

September 01, 1996|Darrell Satzman

Ever since it was launched by Caltrans in 1989, the Adopt-a-Highway program has been wildly popular among community organizations, businesses and individuals who help spiff up the roads while putting a shine on their public image. Waiting lists now run years to adopt heavily traveled stretches of popular highways, and to encourage even more would-be adopters, Caltrans has halved cleaning responsibilities: Now an adopter need spruce up only one side of a roadway. Also, businesses can install "living" logos--landscaping that spells out the name of the company--in exchange for planting and maintaining the roadside, although Caltrans reports that no one has yet to sign up for this part of the program.

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FIRST STATE TO IMPLEMENT ADOPT-A-HIGHWAY PROGRAM: Texas, 1987

FIRST STRETCH OF CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY ADOPTED: Santa Monica Boulevard between Oakhurst and Orgen drives.

FIRST ADOPTERS: The United Lesbian and Gay Christian Scientists

COST OF ADOPTIONS: $0. But sponsors often hire workers to do the actual cleanup.

LONGEST STRETCH OF ADOPTED HIGHWAY: 5 miles, in San Diego County, by an unnamed 74-year-old man who picks up the trash himself.

LENGTH OF ADOPTION: Two years, with option for renewal.

PERCENTAGE OF HIGHWAYS CURRENTLY ADOPTED: 40

NUMBER OF ADOPTERS KICKED OUT OF PROGRAM FOR FAILURE TO PICK UP TRASH: 20

WAIT TO ADOPT A STRETCH OF THE 405 FREEWAY IN WEST LOS ANGELES OR THE 110 DOWNTOWN: Three to four years.

ESTIMATED SAVINGS PER YEAR TO CALIFORNIA TAXPAYERS AS RESULT OF ADOPT-A-HIGHWAY: $15-$20 million.

AMOUNT OF TRASH COLLECTED EACH YEAR: 120,000 cubic yards, which would fill a line of dump trucks 140 miles long.

INELIGIBLE ADOPTERS: Elected or appointed government officials, PACS, political candidates and campaign organizations.

HOLLYWOOD ADOPTERS: Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, Disneyland, Warner Brothers, Bette Midler (self-anointed "anti-litter fiend")

TOTAL ADOPT-A-HIGHWAY SIGNS ON CALIFORNIA ROADS: 3,650

MOST FREQUENT COMPLAINT: Adopt-a-Highway signs are themselves a blemish on the landscape.

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