The Hennepin County Adopt-A-Highway program was established in 1991 to involve the community in the beautifying of our highway roadsides. Through the program, volunteers pledge to keep county roads free of litter.

Road segment lengths available for adoption are typically two miles. Groups are asked to pick up litter along their segments at least twice a year. Hennepin County places signs at the ends of the segments to recognize and thank the volunteer groups for their efforts.

Adopt-A-Highway offers opportunities for:  

  • Companies
  • Clubs
  • Families
  • Other groups
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How to sign up and what is expected

Application process 

Contact us to let us know you are interested in adopting a road segment.

Special information

After a roadside clean-up has been completed, group members place filled trash bags along the roadside boulevard.

  • Groups must notify the Transportation Operations Department permit office to arrange for bag pickup.
  • Groups are encouraged to separate and recycle items if they desire.
  • If the group chooses to dispose of the bags themselves, please notify the permit office at 612-596-0339 or so we can note that the segment has been cleaned.

Hennepin County supplies trash bags and reusable safety vests to all participants at no cost. Groups must pick up the trash bags and vests at the Hennepin County Transportation Department located at 1600 Prairie Drive, Medina (Map It!).

Adopt-A-Highway safety tips


A roadway is a dangerous place to be. Every group member should possess these qualifications:

  • Mental alertness; good common sense
  • Good physical condition, including sight and hearing
  • Sense of responsibility for safety of self and others
  • Supervision for workers under age 18

Plan ahead

  • Review safety precautions and take them seriously.
  • Assign work teams and leaders before you reach the site. Distribute trash bags beforehand. Estimate the amount of time for your pickup and agree on a meeting place when you’re done.
  • Carpool to the site to reduce the number of vehicles along the road. Park vehicles off the roadway as far as possible and on the same side of the highway.
  • Bring along an adequate first-aid kit. Identify the nearest hospital and know how to get there in an emergency.
  • Don’t overexert yourself. Bring along a supply of drinking water and take breaks.

What to wear

  • Heavy gloves.
  • Heavy leather shoes or boots.
  • Light colored clothing; brightly colored cap.
  • Hat and long sleeves for sunburn; sunscreen; insect or tick repellent.
  • High-visibility vests.

While you work

  • Work only during daylight hours during good weather.
  • Work one side of the road at a time. Do not cross the road to get to your vehicle.
  • Whenever possible, face oncoming traffic. Stay alert and be prepared to move out of the way in an emergency. Stay with your team.
  • Do not wear headsets, which could prevent you hearing traffic or other hazards.
  • Do not "horse around" or do anything to purposely distract drivers.

What to avoid

  • Stay away from construction sites, mowing activities, open water, bridges, overpasses, or retaining walls that could be dangerous for workers.
  • Avoid poison ivy or other noxious weeds. Stay away from recently applied herbicides.
  • Do not crush collected trash to make more room in the bag; broken or jagged objects could cause accidental injuries.
  • Never try to pick up heavy or large objects.
  • Do not pick up hazardous materials. Notify Hennepin County for pickup.
  • Stay away from containers that are leaking. They may be a threat to the environment and may also present negative health effects.
  • Stay away from bulging containers. Containers bulge from internal pressure buildup or from frozen liquid.
  • Stay away from corroded containers. They may contain an acid or a base that could cause burns if touched.
  • Stay away from crystallized containers. Some liquids form crystals as they break down over time. Crystallization can be a potential explosion hazard.

Hazardous materials

Hazardous materials are abandoned or spilled on public property by illegal drug labs, business, and individuals. It is important for crews to be aware of their surroundings and to evaluate materials before handling.

Suspect materials should not be handled. Any containers with a Hazardous Waste label should not be handled.


Businesses generating hazardous materials for transportation are required to place DOT labels indicating hazard class on the containers. Any container with a DOT label should not be handled.

Household hazardous waste

Household hazardous waste such as paints, batteries, thermometers, pesticides, motor oil, fuel, antifreeze, etc. should not be handled. These materials can be in an unlabeled container or in the original container with a label.

Compressed gasses

Illegal drug labs fill propane cylinders with anhydrous ammonia and may dump them along the roadside. Anhydrous ammonia is very caustic and can cause burning to the eyes, skin, and lungs.

Infectious materials

Material contaminated with blood and/or bodily fluids, needles, syringes, and sharps should not be handled. Materials of this type may contain a biohazard label.

Radioactive materials

Radioactive materials are a form of ionizing radiation. The most common use of these materials is in medical research, diagnosis, and treatment. Crews should immediately back away from anything containing a Radioactive Materials label.

Phone numbers and check lists

For all emergencies call 911.

If there is a public safety or environmental threat call the Minnesota Duty Officer at:

To report hazardous materials or conditions call 612-596-0299 and have the following information ready:

  • Date found
  • Location
  • Type of Container(s) - drum, box, bag, compressed gas
  • Material of container(s) - metal, plastic, cardboard
  • Size of container(s)
  • Number of container(s)
  • Labeling on container(s) - hazardous waste, biohazard, radioactive, DOT
  • Condition of container - leaking, bulging, corroded, container open or closed

NOTE: Adopt-A-Highway is a public service program for volunteers to pick up litter along Hennepin County highways. For more information, contact Hennepin County Transportation Department at (612)596-0339.

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