Adopt A Highway: Celebrating 3 Decades

TDOT’s Adopt-A-Highway program is celebrating 30 years of beautifying Tennessee roadsides. The program began statewide in 1989 as a means for individuals, community groups and civic organizations to clean-up their communities and receive roadside recognition. The completely free program has grown over time, removing more than 12 million pounds of litter from Tennessee roadsides. Today, more than 550 miles of roadside across the state have been adopted.

“Adopt-A-Highway is a win for everyone involved,” explained Commissioner Clay Bright. “This program allows for our department to directly connect to those who care about their community’s appearance. Volunteers receive recognition and TDOT saves money on picking up litter.”

According to 2016 litter research (Baselice & Associates, April 2016), over 100 million pieces of litter exist on Tennessee rights-of-ways at any given time. That number has decreased by 53 percent since 2006, largely due to volunteer efforts through the Adopt-a-Highway Program. Still, TDOT spends more than $15 million annually on litter pickup and prevention education. 

Adopt-A-Highway is a free program for the public to volunteer to clean up a 2 mile stretch of local state highway. Clean-ups are conducted quarterly and reported to TDOT. Local department staff provides safety equipment, trash grabbers and bags. For the effort, TDOT installs free roadside recognition panels along every adopted area, naming the adoptive individual, group, or organization. For help getting started, program resources are available electronically on the TDOT website.

For more information about TDOT’s Adopt-A-Highway program, visit: For more information about TDOT’s Nobody Trashes Tennessee statewide litter prevention campaign, visit: