Local groups pitch in for Adopt-A-Road program

By: Brendan Losinski | C&G Newspapers | Published July 24, 2018

 Athens High School student government members hit the road to clean up their community streets as part of the Road Commission for Oakland County’s Adopt-A-Road program.

Athens High School student government members hit the road to clean up their community streets as part of the Road Commission for Oakland County’s Adopt-A-Road program.

Photo provided by Craig Bryson

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OAKLAND COUNTY — Every year, more than 270 groups and organizations pitch in to do their part to help clean up Oakland County’s roadsides by participating in the Adopt-A-Road program.

Groups that take part in the program clean up approximately 453 miles of roadway across Oakland County each year. Between July 14 and 22, teams of volunteers can be seen on the sides of many of the county’s roads filling bags with trash.

“We’ve been doing this since 1994,” said Craig Bryson, public information officer with the Road Commission. “We rely on this program. We do what we can to keep the roads clean, but we really don’t have the resources to do cleanups on a wide scale, so this is a real service people can provide to their community.”

The Road Commission also organizes a cleanup week in both the spring and the fall. Bryson said any interested organization can adopt a stretch of road to clean. People don’t need any funding or previous experience, only a willingness to help.

“They just have to be willing to go out and do the work,” he said. “There are very few criteria. It can be a Boy Scout troop, a church group, or politicians will get a group together sometimes. They come in and get some brief training from our staff. We go over safety training. We give them garbage bags and orange vests.”

The Road Commission will place signs at both ends of the designated road sections recognizing the volunteer groups responsible for the sections. Road segments are approved by the commission’s Board of Road Commissioners, and participating groups are reminded to call the Road Commission’s permits division to arrange pickup of bags of litter after the cleanup.

Additionally, the Road Commission relies on groups to call and verify that contact information is current. Groups needing additional garbage bags or orange safety vests can also call the permits division.     
“They can pick their section of road so long as it wasn’t already taken by somebody else,” said Bryson. “They will be walking along the side of the road and picking up any litter or garbage they see. They stack the bags and tell us where they put them, and we come and pick them up.”

Motorists can help augment the effort by slowing down when volunteers are seen picking up trash along roadways and by reminding others not to litter.

Among the groups that will be taking part in the road cleanup is Step on Poverty, a group of high school students from Troy High School and Athens High School who work to combat poverty. They maintain Livernois Road, between South Boulevard and Square Lake Road, in Troy.

“Every year, there are three cleanup sessions. The first is in the spring and the second is in the summer, and there’s a fall session,” said member Gurish Sharma. “We at Step on Poverty are going to be doing the fall session, and we’ll be going out from Sept. 22 to Sept. 30, and we will spend that week cleaning the road.”

Step on Poverty regularly takes on projects such as collecting shoes for those in need in South America and running book collections for young students. The Road Commission’s Adopt-A-Road project was a perfect fit for its goals.

“Step on Poverty’s mission is to eliminate poverty wherever we see it. This includes helping people who are in economic need or helping communities that don’t have the resources to grow or maintain their environmental or business initiatives,” Sharma explained. “Our environmental efforts are geared toward cleaning and maintaining the local community. We really want to keep things clean and safe. … The road cleanup is a part of that.”

Any group interested in adopting a section of county road can call the Road Commission permits division at (248) 858-4891 or send an email to adoptaroad@rcoc.org. More information on the Adopt-A-Road program can be found at www.rcocweb.org.

“The big benefit is you are improving what is usually your local community,” Bryson remarked. “You’re beautifying your community, you’re helping the environment, and you are performing a service for yourself and your neighbors.

“Road cleaning is more than just removing trash from the roads. It’s more about getting people together and working for a common goal that is valuable to the Oakland County community. It makes people feel better and does something great for people.”

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