Better Them Than Us
At some point you’ve seen highway signs that indicate a stretch of local highway is sponsored by a local business or organization which pays a fee to have its name alongside the interstate, and in exchange, manages some kind of care for the stretch of road. On occasion, you might even see a group of employees along said stretch of road cleaning up trash to help beautify the mile or two featuring their name. I volunteered to help clean up a stretch of county road, being told it is an activity that everyone in the organization supports and helps lend a hand to make the process easy and enjoyable. Not true. There is nothing enjoyable about the process and a few months later, the road looks as crappy as it did the week before the clean up. Oh, and all those team members who ‘love to help,’ there are fictional.
I asked my good friend, Google, what this process entails. In my current state of residence, it requires an agreement to de-litter the road at least four times a year. There’s also a safety video to watch, which makes sense, but having read through the contract, I wonder if a company or organization has that much free time, how do they get any business done? It’s a lot of work and requirements. As a traveler passing a particular stretch of road, particularly an interstate, I’m probably not traveling at a speed that I notice the soft drink cans and empty potato chip bags from my car at seventy-plus miles per hour. It’s probably an admirable pursuit, but more likely a way to take the burden off the state, county, or parish from having to hire employees to do the work.
The real advantage to sponsoring a stretch of highway isn’t the impact on the grass off the side of the road, but the name of the business or organization that appears on the highway signs. It’s a mini-billboard that doesn’t cost as much as an actual billboard, and lets passersby know what local businesses exist off exit 237. I remember driving through Minnesota and seeing a stretch along Interstate Ninety adopted by the Buffalo Billfold Company. Would I recall the company’s name years later if it not for the adopt-a-highway effort? Doubtful, and it makes we wonder if I map out a vacation route, what are the chances companies along the route might bid a few dollars here or there to sponsor the road trip in exchange for magnetic signs on my vehicle? Just a thought.
The road adoption that most sticks in my head, however, this stretch with a local sheriff’s office listed as the sponsor. So many questions! Do they stop and pick up some trash while they have someone pulled off the side of the sponsored roadway issuing a citation? Do they show up in a big group and walk along the roadside removing debris? I expect this would be the largest speed trap noted on Google Maps. Do they use local “volunteers” who happen to get assigned community service work along the sheriff’s office particular stretch of road? I presume they wear their bright-colored safety vest, in which case, how do you tell them apart from prison workers? This particular idea amuses me and keeps my mind occupied for at least a dozen miles down the road, far past this particular adopted stretch of road.