KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Department of Transportation is phasing out its Adopt-A-Highway program.

People who participated in the Adopt-A-Highway program would receive a dedicated sign from MoDOT on their adopted road and then volunteer to clean up trash in the section four times a year. 

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Many people dedicated the signs to loved ones. 

Lyla Lane participated in the AAH program. Lane’s 17-year-old daughter was killed in a crash in Independence in 2021. Lane said the program is one way she continues to honor her daughter and keep her memory alive while doing something positive for the community. 

“It’s a beautiful way to keep people’s memories alive. It’s a beautiful way to let the families be a part of keeping memories alive,” Lane said. “It also beautifies the world that they lived in. So I think it’s a great thing, but unfortunately, it looks like they’re doing away with it. “

Lane’s daughter Skyelar, known as Skye to friends and family, was driving on Little Blue Parkway on Feb. 10, 2021, when a drunk driver hit her car. Skyelar died at the scene. Lane said her daughter’s friend Izaiah was in the car and died two days after the crash. 

“She was 17 years old. She had just graduated early from high school. She was accepted already at the all women’s college, Stephens College in Columbia. She had a scholarship, a full ride from them,” Lane said.  “Very smart young lady, and was taken way too soon.”

“It (AAH Program) helped MoDOT. It helped families heal, like my family and my daughter’s friends because she was a teenager,” Lane explained. “We all went out and picked up. We actually still have an adopted road in Independence where she died that we go and pick up as a group. There is about 10 of us.”

A spokesperson for MoDOT said as they phase out the AAH program, the department will introduce a new ‘Keeping Missouri Beautiful’ program focused on one-time group clean-up vents coordinated by district offices. 

In an email to FOX4, MoDOT’s Communications Director, Linda Wilson Horn, said: 

“Missouri’s Adopt-A-Highway program was suspended in May 2023 to perform a top-to-bottom review of the costs and benefits of the program. A recent adoption in St. Louis had raised concerns with the program. The AAH program was started in Missouri in 1987.

“At the April 3 meeting, the detailed review was shared, and its findings showed the costs and safety risks outweighed the program benefits. 

“The analysis showed the average cost per bag of litter collected through the Adopt-A-Highway program is $42 per bag compared to the MoDOT staff pickup cost per bag of $18. Adopt-A-Highway costs account for MoDOT staff administration of the program, the signs and sign installation, and the added costs for staff to pick up the bags left by the volunteers. That is estimated at $1.2 million per year to administer the program. Distracted driving continues to be a concern for safety on the road.”

MoDOT is contacting adoption groups by letter about the changes. 

Groups sign a three-year agreement and will continue their adoptions until their agreements expire, which would be no later than 2026.

During the April 3 Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission meeting, a MoDOT staffer said: 

“We have very dedicated adopters. We have almost 2,200 that are in memory of somebody who passed away on the roadside. So we will be making those signs available for adopters who adopted them in memory of somebody and our other very dedicated adopters. As we go through and remove those signs, we’ll make those available to them.”

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Adopters can call MoDOT to arrange a time to pick up their signs. 

“The new Keeping Missouri Beautiful program will focus on having community groups do one-time clean-up events that are coordinated with the District Offices, similar to the No MOre Trash Bash community events typically held in April, but these can occur year-round. MoDOT staff will work with the volunteer groups to organize the community events, including advising them on a safe location, providing a safety briefing, and even setting up a work zone if that’s deemed appropriate,” Wilson Horn said.