Home Earth Day 2024: VDOT encourages Virginians to keep roads beautiful, do not litter
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Earth Day 2024: VDOT encourages Virginians to keep roads beautiful, do not litter

Rebecca Barnabi
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The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is encouraging Virginians to join the effort to keep the Commonwealth’s roads clean on Earth Day and every day.

“Litter on Virginia’s roads has a harmful impact on safety, the environment and the economy,” VDOT Chief of Maintenance and Operations Kevin Gregg said. “Everyone has a part to play to keep trash off roadways, protect the scenic beauty of Virginia, and reduce the risk of traffic incidents caused by distractions or debris on the road.”

Litter on Virginia’s 59,451 miles of state-maintained roadways is not just an eyesore. The Commonwealth spent more than $9.3 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 to clean up more than 350,000 bags of trash from the roadways. VDOT workers are exposed to an increased risk of being struck by vehicles while removing trash along highways. Litter can also harm the environment and pollute the waterways, contributing to the spread of disease or wildlife ingesting trash.

Here are a few easy tips for Virginians to be part of the solution:

  • Properly dispose of or recycle trash rather than throw it out the car window. Keep a bag in your car to collect trash in one place to easily dispose of it later.
  • Secure objects in or on vehicles to prevent them from falling on the road.
  • “Adopt a highway” to volunteer cleaning a section of a public roadway.

Virginia’s Adopt-a-Highway program empowers people, organizations and businesses to take charge of collecting litter along a section of a road. Virginia’s Adopt-a-Highway is one of the largest programs in the country, with volunteers cleaning more than 8,000 miles of state-maintained highway each year.

Volunteers commit to clean a two-mile stretch of VDOT-maintained roadway two times a year for three years. People must be at least 18 years old to adopt a roadway and participants must be at least 10 years old and accompanied by an adult. VDOT supplies volunteers with trash bags and safety equipment and provides safety training. The agency will put up a sign recognizing the community members responsible for cleaning that part of the road after two litter pickups.

Since 1988, Adopt-a-Highway participants have removed more than 894,009 bags of litter from Virginia roadsides. In FY23, volunteers spent more than 33,919 hours removing more than 24,209 bags of litter.

“We are grateful to the thousands of people across the Commonwealth helping us reduce litter,” Gregg said. “These volunteers make a valuable contribution that produces cleaner roadsides, reduces maintenance costs funded by taxpayers, and raises awareness about the litter problem.”

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.