State-Run Programs That Target Roadside Litter and Beautification

Massachusetts adopt a highway

The Massachusetts Department Of Transportation (MassDOT) runs three volunteer programs that target litter and beautification. Together, these programs removed approximately 98,000 bags of litter from Massachusetts highways and roadways in 2013, the latest year for which data are available.

These programs include:

  • Sponsor-a-Highway. This program allows civic-minded companies to pay for crews from Adopt-a-Highway Maintenance Corporation (AHMC) to clean up a two-mile stretch of a highway 24 times per year. AHMC is a for-profit company based in Santa Ana California. Costs vary depending the condition of the road and volume of litter. The state allows sponsors to post signs to advertise their participation, including a separate, smaller panel with their corporate logo. The cost of these signs is included in the fees companies pay to AHMC.
  • Adopt-a-Highway. This program relies on volunteer teams to clean up litter along state roadways. Each volunteer team adopts a two-mile section of highway with the expectation that they will remove litter at least once a month between April 15 and Nov. 15. In this case, the state covers the cost of signs to recognize volunteer groups.
  • Adopt-A-Visibility Site. Similar to Adopt-a-Highway, this program encourages school, business, and community groups to beautify and maintain high visibility areas and on-off ramps on state highways. In addition to litter clean up, this may include beautification projects and ongoing maintenance. Again, the state covers the cost of signs for nonprofits.

In addition to these volunteer programs, the state’s Inmate Labor Program relies on prison work crews to remove litter along highways and perform general cleaning and unskilled painting projects. According to MassDOT, between 1,900 and 2,700 inmate crews venture out each year, depending on weather and availability. The state spends approximately $1 million per year on the Inmate Labor Program. Most of this money covers the cost of transporting and supervising work crews. Total annual costs for litter cleanup is unknown, as the state budget does not include a separate line item for litter removal.

If you represent a company, community, or volunteer group that is looking to participate in these programs, please contact us for more information.