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Adopt A Road / Adopt A Spot

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) sponsors the Adopt A Road (AAR) and Adopt A Spot (AAS) programs, encouraging individuals, clubs, organizations and businesses to regularly pick up trash from alongside more than 1,100 lane miles of roadways and at locations, such as parks, open spaces and right-of-ways. Help us enhance the appearance of our community while improving our environment.

Your cleanup efforts help us safeguard our waterways and protect the water supply. Roadside litter is a pollutant that can wash into storm drains that flow into our watersheds. The trash that ends up in nearby creeks and streams may eventually be swept all the way to the Chesapeake Bay, degrading water quality and harming our fisheries and wildlife.

Benefits of Becoming an AAR or AAS Volunteer:
  • MCDOT recognizes your contributions by posting a sign with your name on it at the beginning and end of your adopted roadway segment or at your adopted spot.
  • We provide safety equipment and supplies, including reflective vests, heavy duty gloves, trash bags and trash pickup sticks.
  • MCDOT recognizes those who collect the most trash through our Clean Sweeps Awards program.
  • We publicize volunteer efforts through our monthly AAR e-newsletter, on our website, through press releases and at special awards ceremonies.

  1. What is Adopt A Road (AAR)?
The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) sponsors the Adopt a Road (AAR) program to help keep our neighborhoods attractive, clean, safe and litter-free. Volunteers remove accumulated litter and debris alongside 1,100 miles of adopted roadways. The program also enhances the environment by improving water quality. Keeping trash from being washed into storm drains prevents pollutants from contaminating local streams and entering the Chesapeake Bay. The AAR program is an important part of the County’s state-mandated efforts to reduce trash in local waterways.
  1. Who may adopt a road?
The Adopt A Road Program is open to individuals, nonprofit or civic organizations, businesses and governmental entities located within Montgomery County or that are active in Montgomery County. See the list of volunteers online
  1. How is my participation in AAR recognized?
  1. MCDOT recognizes volunteers by posting signs that display your name at the beginning and end of your adopted roadway segment.
  2. MCDOT recognizes those who collect the most trash through our Clean Sweeps Awards program.
  3. We publicize volunteer efforts through our monthly AAR e-newsletter, on our website, through press releases and at special awards ceremonies.
  1. How do I find out what roads are available for adoption?
View the list of road segments available for adoption and their length online.  There are some restrictions on the type of road that can be adopted. Most road segments are about a mile in length. Each individual, group or business volunteer typically adopts only one County-owned road segment. If someone wants to adopt a second road and the road is not adopted within six months, the requestor may adopt it.

Roads within municipalities or State-maintained roads (designated by a route number) cannot be adopted through the County’s Adopt A Road program. For more information on the State’s Adopt-A-Highway program call 301-948-2477 or 301-572-5166 or visit the State Highway Administration’s website.

5. Can I adopt a shorter road segment?

Some road segments up to one-half mile in length are available for adoption. Volunteers who adopt these shorter road segments agree to clean the roadway as well as any bus stops along the route a minimum of 12 times a year.
  1. What is the time limit for participating in AAR?
Volunteers may opt to adopt a road for an unlimited amount of time as long as they meet participation and reporting requirements.
  1. How often do I have to pick up litter?
AAR volunteers commit to cleaning their road segment at least six times a year, including one major cleaning in the spring. Volunteers clean the entire length of the road on each side from beginning to end. For half-mile or shorter road segments, volunteers agree to clean the roadway and each bus stop along the route a minimum of 12 times a year.
  1. Do I need to report my cleanings?
Yes! Reporting cleanings is an essential part of participating in the program.  

The Volunteer Team Leader/Coordinator is required to report:
  • The name of the volunteer group
  • Date of clean up
  • Number of trash bags filled
  • Type of bag used, such as tall kitchen bag, lawn/leaf bag, or County-provided, large, orange bag

Several options are available to report clean ups:
  • Leave a voicemail message on the Community Outreach Hotline at 240-777-7155 (press # to bypass the greeting)
  • Call MC311 Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., or 240-777-0311 from outside the County
  • TTY users call Maryland Relay at 301-251-4850
  1. Who installs the AAR signs?
MCDOT will install AAR signs at no cost to the volunteer. AAR signs may not always be placed at the ends of the adopted road segment because of safety or other considerations. Signs may be installed a few hundred feet from the intersections that begin and end your road.

MCDOT installs AAR signs that include a nameplate featuring only the name of the volunteer, organization or business. Space limitations restrict the name to two lines with 15 characters (including spaces) per line. Slogans, messages, phone numbers and website addresses cannot be included. Volunteers may still participate in the program even if they do not want signs posted that display their name.
  1. Why do I see different types of AAR signs?
Adopt A Road signRustic Road signStandard AAR signs are purple.

MCDOT also installs brown signs to designate rural and rustic road. There is no difference in AAR program requirements for these roadways. The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission designates roads in Montgomery County as rural or rustic that are narrow, low traffic volume roads intended primarily for local agricultural use. This classification ensures that the rural character of these roadways is maintained. Learn more about rural and rustic roads in Montgomery County online and view a map showing their location.

AAR has a partnership with Montgomery County’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to recognize businesses that have taken voluntary steps to protect, preserve and improve the environment and are certified by DEP as a Green Business. AAR volunteers who are also Green Business participants are recognized with a special seal on their AAR sign.
  1. What happens if I don’t comply with program requirements?
The County reserves the right to reassign an adopted road at its discretion or under the following conditions:
  1. MCDOT receives two or more complaints within a six-month period about the cleanliness of the adopted road segment; or
  2. No cleanings are reported by the volunteer for six months.
  1. Do you provide equipment to help in cleanup efforts?
MCDOT has a limited supply of cleanup equipment for volunteers, including reflective vests, heavy duty gloves, trash bags and trash pickup sticks. To pick up supplies, fill out the Equipment Distribution Form and bring it with you or scan and email it. Let us know what you’ll need and when you are coming to pick up equipment by emailing us or calling the Community Outreach Hotline at 240-777-7155 (press # to bypass the greeting). Come to the MCDOT Director’s Office, Executive Office Building, 101 Monroe Street, 10th Floor, Rockville, MD 20850, Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  1. How do I dispose of the trash and recyclables I’ve collected?
    1. Up to three bags of trash may be added to your regular household or business trash pickup.
    2. If four or more bags of trash or large debris are collected, MCDOT’s Division of Highway Services will remove it. Place all trash and debris in one location and arrange for a onetime trash pickup either online or by calling 311, or 240-777-0311 from outside the County. Be sure to note the precise location of the items.
    3. During a cleanup, volunteers are strongly encouraged to collect recyclables separately from trash so they can be recycled instead of disposed. Place recyclables in your household or business recycling bin. Highway Services does not collect recyclables.
  1. Is time spent on AAR cleanups eligible for Student Service Learning Hours?
Yes, as long as an adult is present onsite who can certify the student’s participation. To participate in AAR cleanups, individuals younger than 16 years of age must be supervised by an adult. Download the Student Service Learning Hours form.

15. What happens if I can no longer participate in AAR?
Email MCDOT at mcdot.outreach@montgomerycountymd.gov or call 240-777-7155 or 240-777-7170.
  1. Are illegally posted signs considered litter?
Yes. Volunteers can report illegally posted signs, including those on traffic signs, telephone poles and/or in medians to the MC311 Call Center by calling 311, 240-777-0311 from outside the County or online. If the sign is legal, it will display a permit number, usually on the back. Never confront a sign owner.
  1. What should I do if I encounter toxic or hazardous materials, large items or animal carcasses?

The guidelines for collecting roadside litter are listed below:
  1. Do not touch or try to remove materials that you suspect may be toxic or hazardous, such as batteries, powders, chemicals, smelly substances, suspicious packages, chemical drums or containers, weapons, syringes or needles, and dead animal carcasses. Report hazardous materials to the MC311 Call Center online or by calling 311 (or 240-777-0311 from outside the County). TTY users call Maryland Relay at 301-251-4850.
  2. If you find large items like appliances or tires, contact the MC311 Call Center online or by calling 311, or 240-777-0311 from outside the County. 
  3. Report animal carcasses along a County road by contacting MC311 online or by calling 311 (or 240-777-0311 from outside the County). TTY users call Maryland Relay at 301-251-4850. For carcasses within 15 feet of a State road, call 301-948-2477 or 301-572-5166.

18. What safety and other tips are recommended when picking up litter?
  1. When picking up litter, try to wear light-colored clothing and long sleeves, heavy gloves and sturdy soled footwear. Safety vests, gloves, trash bags, and trash pickup sticks are available upon request.
  2. Volunteers are encouraged to carpool to their adopted roadway to keep the number of vehicles parked along the roadway to a minimum.
  3. Be sure to park completely off the roadway.
  4. Do not consume alcoholic beverages or drugs before or during your cleaning session and make sure to watch out for ticks, bees and snakes.
  5. Volunteers should face oncoming traffic and stay clear of the roadway at all times.
  6. Do not try to remove litter or debris from the roadway – only from the side of the road.
  7. Hold cleanups only during daylight hours outside of peak traffic times and in good weather conditions.
  8. Avoid overexertion and drink plenty of water.
  9. Be sure to have a first aid kit available during cleanups.
  1. Do I get a tax break for adopting a road?
There may be some tax implications associated with volunteer expenses incurred during cleanup participation. Consult your tax advisor.

20. Who do I contact if I experience any problems while maintaining my road?
Contact MC311 online or by calling 311 (or 240-777-0311 from outside the County), Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. TTY users call Maryland Relay at 301-251-4850.  Or, contact MCDOT by email or 240-777-7155 during normal business hours. 
  1. What else do I need to know before signing the AAR agreement?
Volunteers agree to follow the Program Guidelines  that are outlined in the AAR agreement.
 

 

Director's Office · Montgomery County Department of Transportation · 240-777-7170 · Fax: 240-777-7178 · 101 Monroe Street · 10th Floor · Rockville, Maryland 20850 · mcdot.director@montgomerycountymd.gov
For any MCDOT service requests, call 311. Outside the county, call 240-777-0311 or submit via the website.   For website issues, broken links or comments, please email us(does not handle service requests).
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