Oakwood joins Adopt A Highway

Photo courtesy of Oakwood Healthcare System

Kirk Steudle (left), director of the Michigan Department of Transportation; Roy Sexton, corporate director of Strategic Communication and Planning for Oakwood Healthcare; and Tony Kratofil, region director for MDOT, unveil a new sign that is part of corporate the MDOT Adopt A Highway program

Freeways throughout metropolitan Detroit soon will be a little cleaner, thanks to the efforts of some local businesses and a new program adopted by the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Oakwood Healthcare Inc and Village Ford of Dearborn are among the initial corporate sponsors of the Adopt A Highway program. Set along the urban highways of the area, the program will be available on M-39, I-75, I-94, I-96, I-275 and I-696.

The corporate sponsors fund litter removal along their adopted roadways 12 times a year, said Kirk Steudle, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation. Corporate sponsors will be identified by a sign that will be placed within the mile-long section they adopt.

“The need to keep neat, clean and appealing roadsides is fairly essential to the tourism industry in Michigan,” he said. “Many times the freeways and the roadsides are the first things people see. That first impression needs to be great.”

The program will be overseen by the Adopt a Highway Maintenance Corporation, which has logged more than one million hours in 15 other states throughout the 20-year history of the project, AAHMC president Patricia Nelson said.

The corporate sponsorship program is in addition to the volunteer portion of the program, where groups adopt sections of roads in rural locations, she said. Those programs typically only provide three clean-ups every year.

The corporate partnership is an integral part of the program, she added.

“Local businesses are the backbone of this program,” Nelson said. “Our hope is that when customers see that sign that they understand that the business is truly contributing to the quality of life in this state. Those businesses deserve to be supported.”

Steudle said the program could help bring additional money to the state for more road projects. It costs Michigan about $3.5 million to oversee all litter removal programs throughout the state. This program would alleviate some of that expense, he said.

“Once it’s fully implemented, this service could eventually save MDOT and Michigan Citizens about $1.5 million,” Steudle said. “These savings can then be reinvested back into the transportation system. They are state funds — they be used as matching funds to get federal dollars.”

Roy Sexton, corporate director of Strategic Communication and Planning for OHI, said taking part in the program is an extension of the corporate philosophy of giving back to the community.

For more information on the Adopt A Highway Maintenance Corp., go to www.adoptahighway.com.