Community Programs and Services
Begun in 1990, DelDOT’s Adopt-A-Highway (AAH) Program is a partnership between the Department of Transportation and volunteers, working together to make Delaware better, two miles at a time. More than just a cleanup campaign, this innovative program works to educate citizens of all ages about the responsibilities of land stewardship-the care and repair of our environment. Ultimately, the AAH Program is about people caring enough to make a difference.
Currently, more than 800 groups, organizations and individuals adopt stretches of roadway throughout the state. Participants agree to care for a two-mile section of the road in their community. During the course of the sponsor’s participation, groups are responsible for conducting and reporting at least three cleanups per year. DelDOT provides safety vests and trash bags (rubber gloves are available upon request). Signs marking sponsors’ involvement in the program are installed at the beginning and end of the two-mile stretch of adopted roadway. Of course, participants get more from the program than publicity; they get the satisfaction of knowing that their efforts have a direct effect on quality of life in Delaware.
AAH volunteers collect tons of debris from the sides of Delaware’s roads each year. A large percentage of this trash is made up of recyclable materials, such as aluminum cans, glass and plastic bottles. Participating groups have the option of turning this trash into cash through recycling. Many of our volunteers " hit the road" often, in order to help fund group outings, special activities or even uniforms! If sponsors prefer, following each cleanup, they may leave their filled trash bags near their sign for collection by DelDOT. Please inform your district contact person that these trash bags need to be picked up by DelDOT.
Each time a volunteer is seen walking down a Delaware roadside, someone, somewhere, is reminded of our shared responsibility to preserve and protect the landscape. This sense of responsibility put into action is at the heart of the AAH Program. Adopting a road is a big commitment. It’s hard work. Each year, though, thanks to the efforts of dedicated sponsors throughout the state, cleaning Delaware gets a little easier.
Conditions for Participation (Printable Version)
- A minimum two-mile section of highway is required for adoption. Litter pickup will be done on both sides of the roadway three times per year, more often if necessary.
- Roadways will be approved by the DelDOT District Engineer or an appointed representative. The Interstate System and some high volume roadways are not eligible for adoption. However, businesses may wish to participate in a separate sponsorship program to clean high-visibility roads (for a fee) by contacting the Adopt-A-Highway Maintenance Corporation at 800.200.0003.
- Any local community organization, such as civic, social or school groups, is eligible to participate, as are businesses and/or individuals 18 years of age or older. Participants must have approved applications and releases on file with the DelDOT District Engineer or the appointed representative before conducting their first clean up.
- The AAH group name (maximum of 28 characters including punctuation and spaces) will go on the sign in block letters. Logos, website and/or email addresses are not allowed on the signs. Two signs will be posted (one at each end of the two mile stretch) indicating the group responsible for cleaning the roadway. Signs will be designed and installed in accordance with the Delaware Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).
- Participants are asked to adopt the roadway for a minimum period of two years. Continued participation in the program is granted as long as three activity reports per year are filed with DelDOT. Please consider this when initially adopting a road.
- Group members less than 15 years old must be supervised by adults 18 years or older. Individuals under 12 years of age will not be permitted to participate. There will be one adult per eight underage members (12 to 18 years of age). Large groups should be divided into teams of eight or fewer members. Each team should stay on one side of the road.
- Adults are required to complete, sign and submit the "Adult's Release" prior to their first cleanup. If applicable, the "Children's Release" should be completed, signed and submitted for any child between 12 - 17 years old who plans to participate in the cleanup. These forms must be on file prior to participants conducting cleanups. In addition, the volunteer will need to update these forms anytime group members change.
- Your local district coordinator will supply participants with safety information, plastic trash bags, safety vests, and safety signs (and rubber gloves available upon request). Materials are to be picked up from the local DelDOT district maintenance office during work hours one week prior to the scheduled clean up. (You do not need to call to request supplies, as they are usually ready for immediate pickup). Safety vests must be lime green in color (ANSI 107/2004 or better, Class Type II) and be worn at all times when performing clean ups. Vests should be kept by volunteers for future cleanups, but must be returned when withdrawing from the program.
- Participants are encouraged to recycle appropriate materials.
- If participants do not dispose of the filled trash bags themselves, they must notify the local district coordinator as soon as possible so that DelDOT can remove this trash.
- DelDOT will bear the cost of producing, installing and maintaining the signs. DelDOT reserves the right to edit the requested group name to appear on the sign. There is no fee to the volunteer for participation in the program.
- No personal items should be attached to the AAH sign or metal post (i.e., teddy bears, balloons, seasonal items, etc.). DelDOT reserves the right to remove items from the sign/post.
- DelDOT will determine the best placement for the AAH signs, and will make all attempts to post the sign as close to the beginning and ending point of the two mile adopted stretch of roadway. Signs will be designed and installed in accordance with the Delaware Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). At times, DelDOT may co-post a sign with an existing regulatory or warning sign. It should be noted that the regulatory or warning signs receives priority in placement. In addition, signs may be posted on a utility pole. DelDOT does this to decrease the number of metal signposts on the roadway, ultimately making the roadsides safer for motorists who may run off the road. Signs will not be posted at key decision points where a road user’s attention is more appropriately focused on other traffic control devices or traffic conditions, including exit and entrance ramps, intersections, rail grade crossings and areas of limited sight distance. It should be noted that if construction activities occur on the adopted roadway, the AAH signs may be covered temporarily during construction to allow road users to focus on changed roadway conditions. Covering of signs during construction activities will be at DelDOT's discretion.
- Local district coordinators will monitor and administer the program in their respective counties. Please contact them with specific questions regarding road conditions in your area.
Local District Adopt-A-Highway Coordinators
New Castle County – 302.326.4468
Kent County – 302.760.2424
Sussex County – 302.853.1323
- Cleanups during bad weather or when visibility is reduced or restricted are prohibited. The adopting group will be responsible for rescheduling.
- Groups are responsible for notifying the AAH Program Coordinator and/or their local district coordinator of any changes in the status of their application (contact person, telephone number, address, etc.). If we are unable to reach you and sufficient activity reports (three per year) have not been received, DelDOT reserves the right to terminate your participation in the program.
- Groups are required to submit three activity reports per year during the course of their participation in the program. The reports must be completed after a pickup and should include information such as the number of participants and the amount of litter collected. They should be sent to DelDOT, P.O. Box 778, Dover, DE 19903-0778, or submitted online at www.deldot.gov. Failure to submit the requisite reports can result in dismissal from the program. (An activity report form is provided upon application approval, and is available online at www.deldot.gov.)
- Sharing of roads by two different participating groups is discouraged, but will be permitted at DelDOT's discretion. Each group is still responsible for conducting three clean ups per year (and for submitting three activity reports each, per year). The groups do not need to coordinate cleanups, and each group will conduct their cleanup independently. DelDOT has the right to refuse or terminate the sharing of roads.
- If the group's name changes after initial signs have been fabricated and posted, DelDOT will only permit a name change one time per group. Requests for new signs due to a group's name change will be granted only if the group is actively participating in the program.
- If you believe someone is illegally dumping large amounts of litter on a regular basis, please contact the Department of Natural Resources, Illegal Dumping Section at 800.662.8802.
- A participant's signature on the application form indicates that they agree to abide by the rules and guidelines herein.
- DelDOT reserves the right to revise these conditions as needed and reserves the right to deny applications from unqualified volunteers.
The Adopt-A-Highway Program promotes responsible behavior. All participants are asked to keep this goal in mind when conducting cleanups. Program requirements state that the following regulations must be shared with all members: Please review and discuss this information prior to conducting clean ups.
- DON’T pick up litter on the highway, close to the edge of the road or on the median.
- DON’T pick up litter in construction or maintenance sites, in tunnels, behind guardrails or on bridges or overpasses. DelDOT will maintain these areas.
- DON’T pick up materials that appear to be hazardous (used motor oil, lead paint cans, antifreeze containers, etc.). Contact the Delaware State Police or the Hazardous Waste section of DNREC at 800.662.8802 or 302.739.9401 to allow the agency to dispose of the hazardous or unknown waste.
- DON’T pick up any meth lab waste products, such as propane cylinders (like the ones on gas grills), medicine boxes, masks, rubber gloves or hoses/clamps. Notify DelDOT immediately at 800.652.5600 if such items are found.
- DON’T pick up any drug related paraphernalia, such as syringes or needles, as these can easily penetrate through the bag or cause injury.
- DON’T do anything that will distract passing drivers or other volunteers.
- DON’T pick up any firearms or explosive devices. If found, contact your local police agency.
- DON’T work during peak travel times, on or near holidays when traffic is heavy. DelDOT can help you identify suitable hours.
- DON’T participate in litter pickups while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
- DON’T plant flowers or shrubs near your sign.
- DON’T wear music headsets that would prevent you from hearing an approaching motorist.
- DON’T attach signs or miscellaneous items to your AAH sign.
- DO stay on the right-of-way, facing traffic, with your group. Work on only one side of the road at a time.
- DO work in small groups, keeping children with adults at all times.
- DO carpool to the site and park off the road, as far from the pavement as possible.
- DO wear bright colored, protective clothing, gloves and hard-soled shoes. Put on your orange safety vest before leaving your vehicle.
- DO work only during daylight hours and in fair weather.
- DO avoid animals and/or noxious weeds. Contact DelDOT for dead animal removal.