CalTrans, Etc. Supplying Billboards?

I feel stupid not knowing this, but every time I ask someone about it, they don’t seem to really know either: In CA-US, e.g., both the state and some local jurisdictions have lots of signs stuck up right at the roadside that say that such-and-such business, non-profit or private family is supplying one of the following services for the posted section of highway – litter collection, wildflower planting or tree planting. You hardly ever even see CalTrans people, let alone CEOs and kids running along freeways, etc. What’s the deal? Are these governments just selling roadside advertising?


In California, if you pay for one of those signs, you have to send someone out to clean up that stretch of highway. It’s not as if you have to do it yourself. Most people just hire a crew to do it.

The reason you don’t see people doing it very often is that the crews are working early in the morning or on the weekend when traffic is lighter and they run a much smaller chance of getting hit by a car, which is not an uncommon occurrence on Southern California freeways.

So far, I haven’t seen Bette Middler picking up any trash on her section of the Ventura Freeway.

Unless you count that one Simpsons episode…

Remember, I’m pulling for you; we’re all in this together.
—Red Green

California cynicism? Civic-minded groups here in Illinois who sponsor stretches of highway routinely field groups of members for cleaning up their stretch. But after all, who cares who does it? It saves the government money and provides a service we would not enjoy otherwise.

Sure, that teensy sign is great advertising - The Lions and Optimists and local Cub Scout troops are always looking for ways to enrich their coffers. It has nothing to do with atruism!

Sarcasm mode/OFF

I see these signs everywhere, yet the only cleanup crews I have ever seen are those wearing yellow Dept. of Corrections-Youth Athority-County Jail, etc. jackets. I’d always assumed that the sponsers were just underwriting the non-labor costs of prisoner and community-service clean-up crews.

Actually, papabear, it mostly works the other way around. Different states/municipalities do it differently of course, but most often the sponsoring group provides volunteers or hires workers and the state provides bags and stuff, including reflective vests.

Most sponsors tend to be local community groups and local businesses (adopting the stretch that runs by their addresses).

But Nickrz, you wanna see cynicism? I got yer cynicism right here! Here are two developments that the jaded will not find surprising:

  1. Someone has found a way make money off the deal. That’s right, Adopt-A-Highway Maintenance Corp. will arrange everything including labor for you, for the right price of course.

  2. The process gets political. Every once in a while, somebody odious (usually the KKK - they love this program) will try to get in on the act. They always get turned down, always sue, always get gobs of publicity for themselves and often win in court. IIRC, a municipality in Maryland recently ended its program rather than allow the klan to adopt a stretch of road and put up a sign.

Livin’ on Tums, Vitamin E and Rogaine

OK, OK I have proof that people really do this stuff themselves, because I have actually done it! My mom’s church has adopted 2 sections of the “scenic” hiway that the church is on and once a month they get together a working party for it. I usually tag along, cause I know most of the folks that do it through helping with their Habitat for Humanity projects. I can see corporations hiring someone, tho…you can’t FORCE your employees to do this stuff, and really, its pretty yucky.

Try working for The Pillsbury Company sometime. You want your career to go anywhere with the doughboy, you’ll be schlepping garbage bags along with the rest of the climbers. (It’s completely voluntary!)

I don’t know what the current status is in California regarding ‘adopted’ highways (and I am too lazy to look, having fled that state), but about three or four years ago, California had a rule to the effect that those organizations who ‘adopted’ the stretch of highway had to do the litter pick-up themselves. Then, of course, someone got struck by a car doing it, the state was sued, and Cal-Trans suspended the program and decided that all you did was pay and Cal-Trans would pick it up, which then got people all upset because all it is then is a new way to advertise, so then I don’t know what they did…

Fortunatly, most other states behave rationally about such things… (one of the reasons I left California was having to admit that even New Jersey could get things done better) :wink: