Weather Updates

Vounteers keep roads clear of litter through Adopt A Highway program

Volunteers clean up arealong highway for Lake County DivisiTransportatiAdopt A Highway program. | Lake County DivisiTransportation

Volunteers clean up the area along a highway for Lake County Division of Transportation Adopt A Highway program. | Lake County Division of Transportation

storyidforme: 61383186
tmspicid: 22196971
fileheaderid: 10536767

Adopt A Highway facts

• Seven groups have been with the Adopt A Highway program since its inception in 1993: Allendale Association, Buffalo Grove Chamber of Commerce, Exchange Club of Grayslake, Gurnee Rotary Club, Lake Bluff Open Lands Association, Lake County Court Services and Paul’s Landscaping of Grayslake.

• Lake County was the first of the collar counties to start the program.

• The top five garbage items found by volunteers are fast food waste, paper, aluminium, glass and plastic.

Article Extras
Story Image

Updated: April 2, 2014 3:45AM

There’s an opportunity through Wednesday next week to give back to your community while improving the environment by eliminating litter on the roadways, saving the county money, and maybe even have some fun doing it.

It’s the Lake County Division of Transportation’s Adopt A Highway program and they are still looking for a few good groups, businesses or families to donate their time twice a year for two years to keeping their designated stretch of roadway free of litter.

“We were looking for a community service project we could do a couple of times a year where we could make a difference locally and it’s outdoors,” said Pat Klemens of Grayslake, scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 96 based out of Grayslake, which includes members from Gurnee, Wauconda and Round Lake as well. The group has been doing it for about a decade.

“We do Almond Road from Washington Street to Gages Lake Road,” he said, which is near Warren Township High School. “Sometimes we find money. That’s always a surprise for the scouts,” he said, and it’s usually a dollar or some quarters, probably dropped by a student.

“When we first started out, we found tires, parts of appliances. It was a mess and took us forever. Now, it’s just really litter. It’s made a difference,” he said, explaining that when garbage piles up other people think it’s OK to dump their garbage.

“No one puts big stuff out there anymore,” said Klemens.

Volunteers cleared 250,000 pounds of trash from the roadway last year by picking up glass bottles, aluminum cans, plastic bags and other debris. The LCDOT provides each group with high-visibility safety vests, trash bags and safety information before dispatching the volunteers to remove litter from highways and bike paths in the spring and fall.

“We are so grateful for the volunteers in our Adopt A Highway program. Their commitment and hard work translates into more time for our staff to spend on road maintenance and other highway projects,” said Paula Trigg, director of transportation/county engineer.

Civic groups, businesses, unions, sections of government, and now families, are recognized for their hard work with a commemorative sign bearing their name that is placed on the roadway. If the group stops doing the program, the sign is recycled with another group’s name.

Keely Wells, coordinator of the program, said the deadline is Wednesday, Feb. 5, to join in the effort and a list of available roadways, which range from a half-mile to almost two miles, can be found at the website or by calling (847) 377-7472. There are 264 sections of roadway in the system and they all have to be county roads.

They have recruited 10 new groups this year and 73 groups are up for renewal.

“We’ve managed to maintain about 90 to 95 percent of all the road sections,” she said. Last year, they opened the program to families, but don’t get any ideas you can get the family name on the sign while you run for office. It doesn’t work that way. There will be another enrollment period in August.

John Hall, 36, of Round Lake Beach, adopted a stretch of Rollins Road east of Route 83 two years ago. He is doing it to give back to the community and get the name of his business, Johnny Dee’s Tees of Lake Villa, familiar with motorists.

He’s found wooden pallets, “but nothing too weird, not even roadkill,” he said. He plans to renew and he’s found his adopted highway calls to him sometimes.

“Sometimes I’ll be driving down that road and I’ll see a bulk item (like a bag of fast food wrappers) and I’ll just stop and pick it up,” he said.

“I would definitely recommend it,” said Hall.

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.