SOUTH BRUNSWICK – New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner James Simpson today announced the launch of New Jersey’s Adopt-A-Highway program to fight litter and keep New Jersey highways beautiful.
The event, held at the Coca-Cola Distribution Center on Route 130 in Middlesex County, marked the revival of the volunteer program that is expected to become a prominent component of the Department’s Clean Up NJ initiative, giving companies and organizations the opportunity to support well-maintained and attractive roadways in the Garden State. The commissioner was joined by volunteers who will be among the first to adopt a section of highway.
“This is an exciting day not only for the department but for all New Jersey residents who will team up with us to help keep our highways neat in appearance,” Simpson said. “Well-maintained highways convey a sense of pride and send a message to potential employers that New Jersey is a great place to establish a business.”
Simpson was joined at the event by Coca-Cola Distribution Center executives and employees and by officials from the New Jersey Clean Communities Council (NJCCC). The event included the unveiling of an Adopt-A-Highway sign that will become increasingly prevalent as groups sign on to participate. The signs and acknowledgement panels identifying the volunteer groups will be placed along adopted segments of highway.
“Coca-Cola is proud to be among one of the first supporters of this important environmental initiative here in New Jersey with our partners at the NJDOT and New Jersey Clean Communities Council,” said Mike Chidester, vice president, field operations, Coca-Cola Refreshments, New Jersey Market Unit. “Over the years, we have learned that our sustainability efforts must have a direct connection to the communities that we serve and operate in order to drive lasting change. We look forward to a long and successful road ahead for New Jersey’s Adopt-A-Highway program.”
Coca-Cola employees will adopt a one-mile segment of Route 130 near the distribution center. Volunteers will pick up litter along the northbound and southbound shoulders, but for safety reasons will leave the narrow median to NJDOT crews.
NJDOT has entered into a contract with the New Jersey Clean Communities Council (NJCCC) for administrative support. NJCCC is a non-profit organization that was originally formed under the 1986 Clean Communities Act. Its mission is to educate the public and promote programs that fight litter.
“New Jersey Clean Communities Council is delighted to work with NJDOT and provide administrative support to this program that benefits the environment and everyone who travels through this beautiful state,” said NJCCC Executive Director Sandra Huber. “The sight of volunteers working to clean up litter reinforces a primary message that we ought to put trash in its proper place and not litter.”
A total of 7.5 million pounds of litter and debris was removed from New Jersey highways in FY 2011.
In addition to Coca-Cola helping to launch the program, Vineland-based Giordano’s Recycling is also an inaugural New Jersey Adopt-A-Highway participant, adopting two miles of highway near the intersection of routes 55 and 56 in Vineland.
“Giordano’s Recycling is very excited to be a part of the Clean Up NJ effort and look forward to partnering with the New Jersey Clean Communities Council and the New Jersey Department of Transportation to help make our New Jersey roadways cleaner and more attractive,” said Giordano’s Recycling President and CEO Joseph Giordano.
Prospective participants can request to adopt a particular segment of a highway of one mile or more, with NJDOT reserving the right to approve or modify any request based on safety or other factors. In general, interstate highways, highway medians and interchange ramp areas will not be approved for adoption, but exceptions will be considered if the location affords safe access for volunteers.
Adopt-A-Highway volunteers must be at least 16 years old and will be required to participate in a NJCCC training program to learn how to safely pick up litter along an active highway.
Volunteer groups will be asked to plan litter pick-ups several times per year, especially in spring after the last snow melts and prior to major holidays when New Jersey hosts many visitors. Volunteers will place litter in trash or recyclable bags and stack them for pick up by NJDOT crews. Bags, gloves and safety vests will be provided by NJCCC.
NJDOT will fabricate and install Adopt-A-Highway signs and acknowledgment panels to mark an adopted highway segment. Participants will have the option to purchase custom acknowledgment signs from private vendors who will be required to follow certain NJDOT specifications.
Information on the program is available online at www.nj.gov/transportation by clicking on the “Community Programs” tab at the top and selecting “Clean Up NJ” from the drop-down menu. Potential participants will be directed to New Jersey Clean Communities Council at www.njclean.org where they will start the process to adopt a highway segment.
Participating organizations will be required to sign a legal agreement and provide proof of an insurance certificate.
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