Mower County has highways in need of adopting

By Tim Ruzek

The Post-Bulletin, Austin MN

Adopt a Highway groups

To adopt a highway,call Nancy Skalicky at (507) 466-5518 or go to MnDOT's website .

Number of available Adopt a Highway stretches in Mower County:

U.S. 218-- 3.

Minnesota Highway 105-- 2.

Interstate 90-- 5.

Minnesota Highway 56-- 4.

When traveling 50 mph or faster on a state highway, your eyes can't grasp the true amount of litter in the ditches, Paul Worlein says.

"Ninety percent of it you don't see," Worlein said.

You name the item of trash and Worlein likely has found it along the ditches of U.S. 218 — three miles overall in two stretches north and south of Austin.


For nearly 20 years, Worlein Funeral Home in Austin and Blooming Prairie has been part of the state's Adopt a Highway program, a public-service campaign celebrating its 20th anniversary in May.

In the past two decades, Adopt a Highway has saved the state "millions of dollars," according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation .

Every year, Adopt a Highway volunteers pick up 26,000 tons of litter along Minnesota highways, saving MnDOT about $5 million annually, MnDOT says.

Out of more than 12,000 miles of state highway in Minnesota, 9,800 miles need to be adopted.

There are about 4,500 statewide groups and 45,000 volunteers are registered in the program.

There are 60 two-mile segments of state highways that need to be adopted in Dodge, Freeborn, Goodhue, Mower and Steele counties, according to MnDOT.

Fourteen of those segments are in Mower County.

Worlein Funeral Home joined Adopt a Highway in September 1990 -- four months after the state started the program.


Paul Worlein's brother John signed up their family business as a community improvement project. You get name recognition with it, Worlein said, but it's more about helping to keep the highways clean.

"And that was appealing," he said.

For about the past five years, Worlein Funeral Home has donated money to a local Boy Scout troop to pick up litter on behalf of the business in the spring and fall along U.S. 218, said Worlein, who plans to continue working with Adopt a Highway.

"I can't foresee a reason we would not do it in the future," he said.

MnDOT helps groups select a highway to adopt as well as provides reflective safety vests, trash bags and safety information. MnDOT also removes filled bags along with large, heavy or hazardous items from roadsides.

Each group adopts a highway for at least two years and gets a sign created by MnDOT along its section of highway. The groups then collect litter on both sides of the highway typically two or three times a year spring through fall. Spring pickup should be done in April or May before the first grass mowing.

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