Like Willie Nelson, Woolpert is on the Road Again (Literally)

Front: Paul Stanley, Nathan Hall, Penny Hoover, Christina Larry
Back: Mike Avellano, Craig Goodnight, Matt Keating

It’s not just road trips to develop transportation projects that have Woolpert employees from the Columbus, Ohio, office hitting area roadways. Several times a year, they participate in a special community service project that helps keep a section of Ohio roadway free of trash.

Practice Leader Ron Mattox explained that more than four years ago, the Columbus office became involved in the Ohio Department of Transportation’s Adopt-a-Highway program. As part of the program, which is designed to save taxpayer dollars, Ohio residents, groups or communities adopt two-mile stretches of highway or interchanges and volunteer to clean up trash at least four times a year.

“Several times a year, a group of us goes out to the I-670/Airport/Cassady interchange and collects trash for a couple hours on a Saturday morning,” Mattox said.

He became involved in the program through a professional organization “and found it to be a good way to gather with friends and clean up our little bit of the world.”

Many of us speeding by on the highway may not notice how much debris has been tossed out of windows or dumped onto the shoulder. But the Woolpert employees taking part in the program have found some interesting, even bizarre trash, including credit cards, cell phones, stuffed animals, the occasional syringe and car parts—as well as some things Mattox said you really don’t want to know about.

After completing the trash pick-up, the group washes up and enjoys lunch with a little friendly competition.

“During lunch, we vote on who collected the most interesting piece of trash,” Mattox said. “That person receives a gift card. And the person who collected the most trash also gets a gift card.”

Volunteers for Woolpert’s adopted interchange include Mattox, Paul Stanley, Penny Hoover, Christina Larry, Mike Avellano, Craig Goodnight, Matt Keating, Tom Less, Eric Damian and even students from Ohio State University.

Mattox said, in addition to giving back to the community in a meaningful way, they do it “for the fun of it and the comradery.”

Most states have similar highway beautification programs. To find out if your area has such a program, visit your state’s department of transportation website.