The Waz Road crew poses for a photo while volunteering to clean litter from the roadway as part of the Road Commission for Oakland County’s Adopt-a-Road program.

The Waz Road crew poses for a photo while volunteering to clean litter from the roadway as part of the Road Commission for Oakland County’s Adopt-a-Road program.

Photo provided by the Road Commission for Oakland County


Oakland County’s Adopt-a-Road program returns after COVID cancellation

County’s Adopt-a-Road program returns after COVID cancellation

By: Jonathan Shead | C&G Newspapers | Published July 30, 2021

 Members of the Michigan Youth Volunteer Alliance, founded by two Troy High School freshmen, participate in the Road Commission for Oakland County’s Adopt-a-Highway program.

Members of the Michigan Youth Volunteer Alliance, founded by two Troy High School freshmen, participate in the Road Commission for Oakland County’s Adopt-a-Highway program.

Photo provided by the Road Commission for Oakland County

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OAKLAND COUNTY — The Road Commission for Oakland County’s Adopt-a-Road program has returned this year, after a COVID-19-relted hiatus, and is seeking additional volunteers to sign up for its fall cleanup dates, Sept. 25-Oct. 3.

The annual program, which has had nearly 521 miles of roadway adopted by volunteer groups and organizations, provides volunteers a way to give back to their communities and “contribute something to help beautify the place that you live or work,” Road Commission Public Information Officer Craig Bryson said.

“It’s a great way to be a part of your community and help make it a better place.”

The need for litter and debris cleanup — and subsequently, volunteers — is a near constant for the Road Commission and public works crews across the county, Bryson said.

“There aren’t enough resources for any of us who maintain roads to do as much of that type of work as we’d like to. We simply can’t afford to have crews out picking up litter every day of the year, as much as we would like to and as much as there would be work for them to do,” he said.

“Since we don’t have enough resources to do that, one way to expand the ability to do that without additional costs is to recruit volunteers. We think they get something out of it, but it certainly benefits the community at large. It’s a good way to enhance a service that we simply don’t have enough resources to do as much as we’d like without this kind of volunteer effort.”

Volunteers’ cleanup efforts don’t only help beautify the community; they also lend a helping hand to their local department of public works employees and city contractors as well.

“I would have to think it does help,” Troy Department of Public Works Streets and Drains Operations Manager Scott Carruthers said. “When people are interested in volunteering, we always welcome residents’ participation in keeping the city looking like the beautiful city that it is.”

During the winter months, while Adopt-a-Road volunteers are away for the season, Carruthers said, he sends crews out to drive around the city looking for litter. “I think most of the city staff know when they’re out doing their jobs, if they see something, (and) if they have a spare hand, they pick it up on their way back to the truck, just to take care of things they might find on the roadway,” he added.

Troy Department of Public Works Facilities and Operations Manager Dennis Trantham said lawn care contractors who mow the medians, city properties and parks in Troy are responsible for picking up litter prior to cutting the grass in those areas.

Trantham believes Troy doesn’t have a big litter problem in the first place.

“I don’t feel like Troy has a great problem with trash in its roadways. I have worked for other municipalities, even in other states, where I’ve seen a far larger amount of trash on the roadways,” he said. “I think our residents do a really good job, and even our commuters that pass through. Overall, I think they do a pretty good job of not being a litterbug.”

Carruthers, Trantham and Bryson agreed that less traffic on the roads during the early stages of the pandemic last year may have resulted in less littering along the roads. “I’ve seen less litter on the highways. However, we saw an increased litter in our parks,” Trantham added.

Residents interested in volunteering through the county program should call the Road Commission Permit Division at (248) 858-4891 or email the program at adoptaroad@rcoc.org. Trash bags, fluorescent vests and optional masks will be provided upon request.

“We really want everybody to wear the orange or fluorescent yellow vests when they’re out there working. You’re working alongside what is sometimes a busy road. We want people to be safe,” Bryson said. “Make sure you can be seen by the traffic coming, and keep your eyes open about the traffic. We ask motorists to please keep an eye out for (volunteers) on the side of the roads during these cleanup times.”

Another important task for volunteers is to make sure they notify the Road Commission when they’ve completed their cleanup so county crews can go retrieve the trash bags. Volunteers should notify the Road Commission of the pickup location for the trash bags.

Volunteer groups and organizations will be honored for their volunteerism by the Road Commission, which will place a sign at both ends of the designated roadway recognizing the group’s efforts. “It’s one of our ways of thanking them for doing it and making sure they’re recognized within the community for doing that work,” Bryson said.

Despite the large number of volunteer groups involved, Bryson said there’s always room and more roads to clean up. “If anybody wants to volunteer and jump in, we’d welcome them to come talk to us.”

For more information, visit rcocweb.org/218/Adopt-A-Road.

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