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      Lend a hand, adopt a highway

      Do you get tired of driving and seeing trash alongside the highway?

      The Missouri Adopt-A-Highway program is dedicated to keeping roadsides clean and free of unsightly trash. In cooperation with more than 3,700 groups, the program cleans nearly 5,200 miles surrounding Missouri's highways.

      This is only a small portion of the total 385,000 acres the program attempts to clean and many more volunteers are needed in order to keep our driving lanes debris free.

      Recent concerns about safety while picking up trash alongside the road has detoured some volunteers from participating in the Adopt-A-Highway program.

      Marisa Ellison, Customer Relations Manager for the Missouri Department of Transportation encourages volunteers to "leave an item or piece of trash alone if you suspect it may be hazardous." Safety is top priority with the program so they offer special training sessions and provide safety materials to ensure that volunteers know what to and what not to pick up.

      Many different groups volunteer their time to keeping Missouri highways clean. These groups include commercial and private enterprises, civic and non-profit organizations and families or individuals.

      All trash and debris must be cleared from the land surrounding the highways before workers can mow. This is how the volunteers' beautification efforts save Missouri taxpayers "about $1.5 million a year," Ellison said.

      If you are interested in becoming a part of Missouri's Adopt-A-Highway program, visit http://www.modot.mo.gov/services/community/adoptahighway.htm.