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On This Date in 1985: Adopt-A-Highway Began in Tyler

Michael Gibson / Townsquare Media
Michael Gibson / Townsquare Media

Have you been a part of a group of volunteers to clean up trash on the side of the road in East Texas? Did you know that started in East Texas? On March 9, 1985, the first ever Adopt-A-Highway was adopted in Tyler. It is the two-mile stretch of Highway 69 just outside of Loop 323.

How did it come about?

According to, in 1984, James Evans, who was an engineer for the Texas Department of Transportation, saw a truck he was behind in Tyler with trash blowing out of the bed. He decided to go to some local volunteer groups and asked if they would be willing to pick up trash along various highways. Nobody took Evans up on it.

But, the Public Information Officer for the Tyler District of TxDOT, Billy Black, took up the cause and got the Adopt-A-Highway program off the ground. The program included training and provided equipment for volunteers.

The Tyler Civitan Club became the first group to adopt that portion of Highway 69 and still does to date.

From there, the program has grown to the rest of country and even around the world including Canada, Japan and New Zealand.

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