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Highway Adoptions Held Up by Paperwork

A pile of DOT paperwork is preventing volunteers from clearing piles of paper and other trash from the side of area highways.

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NASHVILLE, N.C. — A pile of paperwork in the state Department of Transportation is preventing volunteers from clearing piles of paper and other trash from the side of area highways.

Terry Sanders wants to join the state Adopt a Highway program to keep Nash County roads clean. For her, it's about more than the environment. It's also about her 16-year-old daughter, Katherine.

"We were in a car accident on Sept. 10 and she died," said Sanders, who wants to dedicate a stretch of road to her daughter's memory.

She applied to adopt the road five months agom but is still waiting for approval.

"It's very frustrating. The group of people who want to help us clean up the road keep calling (and asking) have we heard anything," she said. "(The road) really needs to be cleaned up."

DOT District Engineer Bill Bass said two clerks left last fall, and paperwork for the program has been piling up ever since. The office is finally back to full staff, he said, and officials hope to get caught up with Adopt a Highway applications in six weeks.

Meanwhile, Sanders' application is one of at least eight still pending.

"(There's been) a lot of training going on, and that has put us behind a little bit," Bass said. "You have to prioritize your work, and it's sad to say, but we've just had to put that on the back burner for a little while."

In addition to trying to keep highways clean, the local DOT office is in charge of repairing and repaving about 3,000 miles of roads in Nash and Wilson counties.

Bass said the application process ensures the road is safe for volunteers and that there is no overlap between groups. Anyone can start cleaning while they wait for approval, he said.

Sanders said she worries that cleaning the road too early could compromise her request.

In addition to the Adopt a Highway program, state workers and inmates also help clean roads throughout the year.

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