Lisa Bohlen has seen a lot of strange things during the past two years when she has been cleaning up ' stretch of U.S. 23 as part of the Michigan Department of Transportation's (MDOT) Adopt-a-Highway program, but the strangest perhaps has been a women's red high-heeled shoe.
"It was really high," Bohlen said of the heel. "And it was just one, only one. We also found a tricycle the first time we were out here. We put it on the side of the highway while we finished, and when we came back it was gone."
Bohlen, Preview Properties' controller, goes out three times a year with other employees to pick up trash alongside U.S. 23 between 8 Mile and Silver Lake roads. Her company is responsible for both the northbound and southbound sides, but not the median.
According to MDOT, about 3,100 groups participate in the Adopt-a-Highway program and clean more than 7,000 miles of highway. The program saves MDOT about $1.5 million annually.
"It's a just good way to give back to the community," Bohlen said about the program. "We do a lot of fundraisers and potluck lunches, but this was one way for us to get out and do something. And it gives us a presence because MDOT provides the signs on your stretch of the road, although people are going so fast they probably don't see them."
This week is the last cleanup of the year for Adopt-A-Highway volunteers. Other cleanups are held in April and July.
Bohlen said she finds different items each time she cleans the roadway—car parts such as bumpers in April, left over from winter accidents, and camp-related gear in July and September.
also participates in the program but was unable to clean its roadway this month or in the July session because of construction. Corrigan's stretch is also on U.S. 23, between Lee and Silver Lake roads.
The company joined the program in 2010, according to Connie Bukoski, Corrigan's corporate counsel.
Bukoski said during their first cleanup, company volunteers were given 100 trash bags and told that would be plenty—but they ran out. The company filled all 100 bags during the first cleanup, 103 bags the second and 131 bags the third time out.
"We have a lot of employees, and we do other things for the community, but this is nice because we get together and spend time with people in the company we don't normally get to spend time with because there's different divisions in the company," Bukoski said.
Groups and organizations that are interested in adopting a section of available highway can visit www.michigan.gov/adoptahighway for more information.
Editor's note: This story has been changed to correct the spelling of Lisa Bohlen's name.