Update: Jonathan -- the Jonathan -- posted a comment below.
I've passed this Adopt-a-Highway sign on New Scotland Road, near the Tollgate Restaurant in Slingerlands, dozens of times and it's always left me scratching my head.
Is it meant to be snarky? Is it meant to make me feel bad because I haven't adopted a stretch of highway myself? Or is it just a genuine proclamation of selflessness and commitment to bettering the world, one stretch of road at a time?
To find out, I called Peter Howard, the regional Adopt-a-Highway coordinator for the state Department of Transportation. It turns out that Peter was about as confused as I was -- so he called his compatriots in the Albany County DOT offices.
Here's what I found out: officials aren't sure exactly who Jonathan is, but they suspect the sign is meant as a tribute to a likely-deceased family member. A group of people by the name of Piedmont keep the stretch of road clean and adopted. Unfortunately, that's about all anyone seems to know.
If you're curious about what exactly adopting a highway entails, the folks at DOT are more than willing to help you figure it out. Informational brochures are also available at each county's Transportation Maintenance office. (Albany County's is in Voorheesville.)
State officials say volunteers have adopted some 5,000 miles of state highways and kept them free of trash. Contrary to a certain "Seinfeld" episode, it doesn't entail reconfiguring the road's lane dividers. Adopters usually get a stretch of highway 2 miles long and they're required to pick up litter along the road four times a year for two years.
Oh, and you get a sign declaring to the world how much you care about it -- or just the name of your particular organization, if you prefer.
Jonathan Cares sign
1568 New Scotland Rd
Bethlehem, NY 12159
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