MnDOT | Adopt a Highway

This sign is a symbol of pride: the pride
you take in keeping Minnesota roadsides clean and litter-free. Every year thousands of volunteers
like you make Minnesota’s Adopt a Highway program a successful example of public /
private cooperation. To thank you for your hard work, the Minnesota
Department of Transportation is proud to erect this sign. It tells others that your organization
has made a long-term commitment to keeping Minnesota beautiful. I’m Jan Ekern, the Statewide Adopt a Highway
Coordinator, and I want to personally thank you for keeping Minnesota’s roadsides clean.
The work you do is very important, but it can be dangerous. We want you to have a safe
and satisfying experience every time you go out. In addition to being alert to high-speed traffic,
you need to know what you might encounter in the ditches and what you should avoid.
Please follow these instructions carefully — your safety depends on it. This is a workday, so wear your work clothes.
Choose blue jeans or other sturdy work pants. And long sleeves will protect you from scratches
and sunburn. Your hands and feet are especially vulnerable
to injury. Wear heavy gloves – preferably leather — for picking up dirty or broken
items. And wear your workboats, hiking boots or heavy leather shoes. They can help prevent
turned ankles or punctures. And don’t forget a bright hat or a visor. It’ll protect you
from the sun — plus it’ll make you more visible to passing motorists. It’s a good idea to bring along your sunglasses,
sunscreen and some insect repellent. And don’t forget a plentiful supply of drinking water.
It’s very important to stay hydrated while you work. And finally, wear your safety vest – Mn/DOT
requires it. In fact, you should put it on before you arrive at your site. The purpose
of the vest is so that motorists can see you. It’s important that you be able to see motorists
– but it’s critical that motorists see you. Your group leader should bring along a first
aid kit and a cell phone. Everyone in your group should know the location of the nearest
hospital and know how to get there in an emergency. And make sure everyone’s tetanus shots are
up-to-date. Of course, you’ll need to bring along a
supply of trash bags. Your leader will get them ahead of time from your Mn/DOT contact. Schedule your pickups when the weather is
good. If it looks like rain or fog, choose another date. Motorists have much less control
when the roads are wet, and even a light fog impedes their sight distance. Don’t let
your presence on the roadside increase the chances of a crash. Traffic awareness reminder:
• Wear
your vest • Be alert for traffic How to Park
It’s best to carpool to the site. This reduces the number of vehicles parked on the roadside.
The best solution is to appoint a designated driver who can drop you off and pick you up
again when you’re done. Otherwise, find a place to park that’s safe and visible,
well off the traveled way. If possible, choose a parking lot or a seldom-used approach. If you must park on the shoulder, park to
the far right of the white line so your vehicle does not encroach onto the driving lane. Always
park on the same side of the road where crews are working, and turn on your warning lights.
Never park on an Interstate highway. If you’ve adopted an Interstate segment, contact Mn/DOT
for specific parking instructions. Parking instructions reminder
• Carpool • Driver dropoff
• Nearby parking lot • Entrance to farmer’s field
• Shoulder – off as far as possible •
While You Work Now you’re ready to pick. Here’s a simple
way to keep your bag open while you work. Find or make a stick that’s 1 to 2 feet
long and a couple of inches wide. Place the stick on the outside of your bag a few inches
from the top edge. Fold the bag over the stick toward the outside. Then fold it again. You
can now hold the bag by the stick to keep your bag open while you pick. Some roadsides are dangerous for pedestrians.
Never try to retrieve litter that is lodged in bridges, near retaining walls, at the bottom
of steep embankments, in open water, or in places where you’d have to cross the highway
to retrieve it. Always stay with your group; you’ll be easier
to see if you’re in a group of 5-6 than if you’re working alone. Your group should
work on one side of the road at a time. Whenever possible, face the oncoming traffic. Always
stay alert for traffic, and never dart into the traffic lane. Never horse around on the roadside. It creates
a distraction to drivers and can cause a crash. You’ll need to pay attention to the traffic
and the job at hand, so leave your headsets at home. And when you get tired, take a break. While you’re picking up litter, watch for
dangerous objects and handle them very carefully. Be alert for broken glass, sharp metal objects
and boards with exposed nails. Don’t put them in the bag if they could poke through
and injure someone. Just lay the item next to the bag. When your bags are full, place several of
them together near the shoulder, but not on the shoulder. If you find a large object, place it next
to the bags. If it’s too heavy to move, mark the location with a bag. What to Avoid
Abandoned barrels or containers with unknown contents can be very dangerous. Do not touch
them. Labels do not necessarily correspond to the contents. If you find a container with
an unknown substance in it, make a note of its location by identifying the number on
the nearest milepost. Then call your Mn/DOT contact with the location and description
of the item. Mark the location with a filled trash bag. If you find weapons of any kind,
leave them alone and call 911. Other items you should avoid are: gas cans; used oil;
antifreeze, car batteries; fluorescent bulbs; and hypodermic needles. Always approach leaking
containers from upwind and uphill to avoid stepping in unknown liquids. Again, mark the
location with a bag, note the nearest milepost number, and call Mn/DOT.
You may run across dead animals in the ditch. Don’t pick them up. If the animal is small,
just leave it for scavengers. If the animal is large, call your Mn/DOT contact with the
location, and state crews will take care of it. If you come upon a pile of woodchips or
compost, you can assume it is covering a dead deer. Just leave it alone, and nature will
take care of it. Methamphetamine waste is extremely dangerous.
If you come across any of the following items, DO NOT TOUCH THEM. Contact Mn/DOT for removal.
1. Propane cylinders from gas grills. The brass fittings may have turned blue or green.
They are used to transport anhydrous ammonia and can explode, causing burns or severe respiratory
damage. 2. Pill residue. It’s a pinkish putty-like
substance. 3. Respirator masks
4. Rubber gloves 5. Rubber hoses and clamps
6. Sheets and pillowcases stained pink or red
7. Corning or Pyrex containers with rubber hoses attached.
8. Solvents of any kind Again. . . . if you find any items that could
be meth waste, report them immediately to Mn/DOT. Never touch them. Safety Reminder
• Personal safety • Hazardous material
• Suspicious or unknown material • Don’t touch it
• Notify Mn/DOT for pickup It’s a sad fact that more and more adopters
are finding containers of urine tossed onto the roadside. Urine is a hazardous substance
and should not be taken to a landfill. Therefore, you should not bag containers of urine or
any other biological waste. Leave the container where you found it, and place a filled bag
next to it to mark the location. Your group also could help reduce storm water
pollution by watching for illicit discharge of materials in the ditch. These illegal materials
can include wastewater from industrial activity, sanitary sewer waste, or liquid material such
as paint or oil that a homeowner or someone has dumped in a storm water system. If you notice either standing or flowing water
with unusual odor, color or sheen on the water’s surface as you walk the ditches, please note
the location of the discharge, a description of the material – such as odor or color
– and the time and date you witnessed it. This information is needed for further investigation.
Do not touch the material, take any sample of the material, or try to track it to an
upstream location. This will keep you safe and ensure any evidence collected is handled
properly. Personal safety reminder
• Personal safety • Hazardous material
• Suspicious or unknown material • Don’t touch it
• Notify Mn/DOT for pickup If you remember only 1 thing from this video
it’s that the traffic is moving at 50-70 mph. That’s your primary concern. But if you follow the instructions and precautions
given here, your Adopt a Highway experience will be rewarding and safe.
Once again. . . . . Wear proper work clothes, and always wear
your safety vest. Always work in groups and watch for dangerous
objects and situations. Avoid hazardous materials and call Mn/DOT
to report anything questionable. Mn/DOT is very proud of you — and all of
our Adopt a Highway volunteers. Thank you and remember to think Safety First.