The Indiana Department of Transportation has teamed up with the South Shore Convention & Visitors Authority and Indiana State Police to help clean up Northwest Indiana's state highways this summer.
INDOT and crews from the Indiana Department of Corrections will also perform extra cleanups along state roads in advance of events that draw tourists to Northwest Indiana. State police also will be stepping up enforcement of people who litter along the roads.
Under Indiana law, littering is an offense punishable by up to $1,000 in fines.
"Keeping the roadways free of litter is a team effort," said Mike McPhillips, INDOT's LaPorte District deputy commissioner. "INDOT already relies on hundreds of volunteers in our Adopt-A-Highway program. These citizens help supplement the crews that we have to help keep the highways clean."
In April, more than 500 Adopt-A-Highway volunteers collected trash on 164 miles of roads in the region. Volunteers collected more than 2,700 bags of trash and donated 1,116 hours of time. Adopt-A-Highway volunteers agree to clean their adopted stretch of highway at least twice each year.
Speros Batistatos, chief executive officer for the South Shore Convention & Visitors Authority, shared a list of regional events with INDOT for the beautification effort.
Leon's Triathlon, the Gary Air Show, Pierogi Fest and the Lake County Fair will be the focus of extra cleanup efforts on area highways.
"The work this effort was able to accomplish last year had a significant impact on our gateway roads," Batistatos said. "We feel the cleanup project is important because highways and roads are often a visitor's first impression of an area. We are thrilled that INDOT understands the importance of those positive impressions of travelers visiting Northwest Indiana."
Communities and organizations also are joining the effort. The Downtown Hammond Council hosted its annual Spring Clean-up and Beautification Project Saturday. Volunteers there helped pick up litter, pull weeds and plant annuals along Hohman Avenue.