The benefits of an Adopt-A-Highway program are many. It is one more way for Free Traders everywhere to get involved and make new friends. It gives 24-hour exposure (free advertising) to thousands of motorists traveling along highways each and every day, which can help "Free Trader" becoming a household phrase. It provides exercise for the participants.
All these benefits come at no financial cost. All it takes is the commitment of a little time. The roadway length for which you are responsible varies as a function of trash accumulation rate, but two miles on one side of a freeway is typical. A team of five or more can clean it about two hours.
The Adopt-A-Highway program of the State of California may be similar to that of other states. A permit is valid for two years. If any California participants wish to adopt-a-highway, contact Arturo Vertiz of Cal Trans, at 619/688-3367.
For example, on the 3rd Sunday of each month, at 11:00 A.M., the "San Diego Libertarians" met at their sign on I-15 to pick up trash along the northbound lane according to a map provided by Bill Holmes. Bill Holmes used his van to transport workers, and his utility trailer to haul large items of trash and the day's accumulation for deposit at the end of the section for which the SDLP was responsible. In the back of the This routine worked until Bill Holmes left with his seven-passenger van and utility trailer. A truck or trailer is usually necessary to cumulate trash bags for unloading at one end of the route for subsequent collection by the highway authority.
Plastic trash bags, two air horns, twenty sets of reflective vests, safety glasses, helmets, cotton gloves and pickup tools are provided by Cal Trans. The gloves are worthless for protection from liquids or sharp objects, like the steel fibers in shredded tires. Each participant should bring their own leather gloves. The bags can be difficult to keep open in the wind, and frustrating to stuff with the tool, so something to keep its entrance open is recommended. A rolling trash can works well on level surfaces. A wire hoop and masking tape is recommended when working on slopes. Trash cans in the truck or trailer are recommended for the same purpose.
Not everything will fit in a bag. Be prepared for tires, ice boxes and refrigerator doors. On the other hand, sometimes money is found.
The vinyl signs provided by Cal Trans are too small to be of much value. Have your own sign done that says simply, "Libertarians" in the largest font that will fit in the allocated space. Ideally, the text should be reflective.
Cal Trans Rules:
- AGE - no one under the age of 11 may participate.
- CLOTHING - Cal Trans recommends wearing long pants and sturdy shoes. Orange vests, gloves, safety helmets and safety glasses or sunglasses are required.
- PARKING - No parking is permitted on the shoulder of the roadway. Whenever possible, carpool.
- TRASH PICKUP - Work in small groups to assure maximum safety while providing the least amount of distraction to oncoming motorists.
- BEVERAGES - No alcohol or drugs are permitted. Smoking is not recommended.
Optimum highway section:
- Near media offices.
- Under a street light.
- On busy highway with little trash.
- On drop-off side of road only so there are no hill sides to clean.
- On the outer radius of a curve, so the sign is difficult to ignore.
- On a boring stretch of highway, so the sign is visual relief.
- Low speed limit .
- Long unobstructed approach to sign.
- Something visually interesting is beyond the sign, so people attracted to the scene notice the sign obstructing their view.
- With a turn-out or wide section of shoulder where participants can park their vehicles and assemble out of harm's way.
- On scenic highway that makes work more tolerable.
- With shade.
- Seven-passenger van.
- Utility trailer with two-foot high sides.
- Toilet paper and shovel.
- Sun screen.
- First Aid
- Snake bite kit. The venom travels up the lymph system near the surface of the skin, so an elastic (Ace) bandage between the bite and heart will do.
- Disinfectants and bandages for cuts
- Rapidly assimilated sweets (preferably glucose in a bottle) for those with blood sugar problems.
- Aspirin to mitigate heart damage in the event of an attack.
- Cellular telephone
- Self-defense devices as appropriate.
- Ice chest in van with ice for participant drinks and food. Discourage caffeinated drinks and alcohol in hot weather (know in advance who should be encouraged to eat frequently to maintain their blood sugar level and watch them for erratic behavior).
- Water cooler and cup dispenser or assigned cup cabinet attached to outside of utility trailer (never underestimate the amount of water needed and constantly encourage everyone to hydrate).
- Bag and tie dispensers on back center of trailer.
- Bag secured in open position in both rear corners of trailer.
- Libertarian signs on van.
- Libertarian banner on trailer.
- Gas powered mower.*
- If you want to socialize, meet for breakfast. Don't plan on eating afterward unless it's a pool party, because all anyone will want to do afterward is bathe.
- If you don't ALL assemble at a central area of town and take the van to the site, then assemble at the end point of the road section and ride to the beginning of the road section in the van to avoid packing dirty and sweaty people in the van to return them to their vehicles.
- Use emergency flashers on the van and trailer to attract attention to their signs.
- One person drives the van slowly enough along the shoulder for people walking along side the trailer to toss small trash into the open bags in the trailer and large trash into the trailer. The person walking behind the trailer usually carries their own bag, because it's too difficult collect unanticipated trash appearing from beneath the trailer and dump it in the trailer before more trash is passed. If the shoulder narrows, the trailer followers substitute their own bags or a rolling trash can for the trailer while the van and trailer advance to the next wide shoulder.
- Others scour the embankment and hillsides for trash, filling their own bags. When the bags are full, seal them, toss them in the trailer and get a new bag. If the bags become too difficult to carry easily before they are full, empty them into one of the open bags in the trailer.
- One person follows the crew mowing weeds that collect trash and make it difficult to pick-up trash, so that the next effort will be easier.*
- If you have enough people, or circumstances demand it, one person should watch for dangerous situations and warn drivers away and alert participants with an air horn.
- Take turns driving, walking with the trailer and working the hillsides.
- When the end of the section is reached, empty the trailer where a highway crew can easily see and collect the trash.
- Upon your return home, notify the authorizing highway authority of the whereabouts of the trash.
* This has not actually been done, but it was wishful thinking in San Diego. Unfortunately, we only had an electric mower.
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