Strategy sessions often begin over baskets of peanuts and onion rings
For more than 15 years a group of ITD employees has assembled for beverages and lively discussion at the Dutch Goose near Headquarters. But the Boise Beverage And Discussion society, as members refer to themselves in mixed company, isn’t your typical book or garden club.
The dedicated members gather to talk trash – highway trash.
Inspired by founding member Clayton Sullivan, a former District 3 Maintenance Engineer, the BBAD gang meets semiannually to attack litter on a two-mile segment of Idaho Highway 21 east of Boise. They clean a one-mile segment on both sides of the Kodiak Grill (formerly the Hilltop Café), between mileposts 13 and 15, and then retire for lunch and lively discussion.
“We’ve been doing this for 15-plus years … except for a few breaks," said group spokesperson Sandy Nelson, a District 2 operations office specialist.
Spring and fall cleanups produce an abundance of litter – beer and energy drink cans, cigarette butts and a lot of dead animals. Volunteers also picked up golf balls, live snakes, music CDs, “and of course a variety of under garments in a wild array of colors,” Nelson explains. They even return occasionally from spring outings with collections of ticks.
For their long-term commitment, the BBAD collectors were named the 2009 Adopt-A-Highway group of the year for District 3. Members accepted their reward, a certificate and clock fashioned from a sample Idaho license plate Wednesday at the Idaho Transportation Board meeting in Boise. Board member Jerry Whitehead made the presentation to Harris, Althea Fackrell, Sherie Sweaney and other delegates.
Last year, BBAD members removed more than a ton (2,100 pounds) of litter from the highway, and since becoming involved in the Adopt-A-Highway program, have collected more than 10,000 pounds.
ITD’s statewide Adopt-A-Highway 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.
Approximately 1,100 groups spent nearly 60,500-person hours statewide removing litter in 2009, collecting an estimated 1.5 million pounds of litter from Idaho’s roadsides. More than half of Idaho’s highways have been adopted, leaving ample opportunities for other groups and individuals to become involved.
The volume of material collected makes a tremendous difference in the appearance of Idaho’s highways, said Sweaney, statewide AAH coordinator.
The estimated value of the cleanup labor is equivalent to more than $730,000 – savings that can be applied to other projects, improving highway safety and driving conditions. For more information about adopting a stretch of highway, contact Sweaney at (800) 443-2878.