Few people know U.S. 20 near Idaho Falls as intimately as Jim Pletscher. He walks two sections of the highway alone several times a year picking up after others as part of the Idaho Transportation Department’s Adopt-A-Highway program.
For his efforts, he will receive the District 6 Adopt-A-Highway group of the year award next week during the Transportation Board’s meeting in Idaho Falls. Officially, the award goes to Lyn’s Linens, which has adopted two contiguous two-mile segments of the highway and a third, isolated two-mile segment.
Combined, they constitute the clean-up range for Pletscher, whose wife Lyn owns and operates the retail store. Lyn’s Linens adopted unconnected segments of U.S. 20 five years ago. Six litter pickups between mileposts 289 and 291 produced 3,010 pounds of garbage. Seven cleanings between mileposts 284 and 286 netted another 4,585 pounds.
In July 2004, Lyn’s added another segment between mileposts 287 and 289. Pletscher’s three outings along that section have produced 1,715. For the record, he has removed more than 4.5 tons of litter from the highway.
Jack Combo, who represents eastern Idaho’s District 6 on the Transportation Board, will present Pletscher with a certificate and a clock, fashioned from an Idaho license plate replica, Thursday.
The AAH program organizes the cleaning of Idaho roadsides by volunteer groups. Those groups “adopt” a specific stretch of highway – usually two miles long – and take responsibility for keeping it clean through regular litter patrols.
More than 1,150 groups spent approximately 27,404 person-hours statewide removing litter in 2004. About 55 percent of state highways have been adopted, leaving ample opportunities for other groups and individuals to become involved.
The volume of material collected from the shoulders of Idaho makes a tremendous difference in the appearance of Idaho’s highways, said statewide AAH coordinator, Sherie Sweaney.
Volunteers collected more than 2.3 million pounds of litter in 2004, resulting in a savings to the state of nearly a quarter-million dollars that can be applied to other projects that improve safety and driving conditions.
For more information about adopting a stretch of highway, contact Sweaney at 1-800-443-2878.