Have you been a part of a group the adopt a section of highway and periodically take a day to pick up trash alongside that road? Did you know that program started in East Texas? Yup, March 9, 1985, the first ever Adopt-A-Highway was adopted in Tyler on a two-mile stretch of Highway 69 just outside of Loop 323.

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How did it come about?

In 1984, James Evans, who was an engineer for the Texas Department of Transportation, was behind a truck in Tyler and trash was getting blown out of the truck bed. Evans was thinking about the tax payer cost of keeping the highways clean. To subvert this, he decided to go to some local volunteer groups and asked if they would be willing to pick up trash along various highways.

Sadly, nobody took Evans up on his offer.

It wasn't until the Public Information Officer for the Tyler District of TxDOT, Billy Black, took up the cause and got the Adopt-A-Highway program off the ground. Black set up training for those who wanted to volunteer and provided equipment for them to use.

Which Tyler group became the first to sign up?

The Tyler Civitan Club became the first group to adopt that portion of Highway 69 and still does to this day. Following their inspiration, other groups followed suit and began adopting their own stretches of East Texas highways including schools and churches.

The program began catching on across the state and then across the United States. It even reached into Canada, Japan and New Zealand.

If you would like to Adopt-A-Highway in your area, go to txdot.gov.

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