Brion Weintzweig sports a neon green vest and bright orange trash bags as he walks a stretch of Reisterstown Road. Since 2003, he’s worked to help keep the road litter free from Franklin Boulevard to Chartley Drive.
“To me, it’s a fun little walk,” the Reisterstown resident said. “My schedule is pretty flexible, so I don’t mind taking some of my free time to help out, and I find it personally enriching.”
Weintzweig, owner of Able Hands Mobile Massage, is one of many volunteers who participate in the Adopt-A-Highway program, which is organized by The Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA). The program allows volunteers from local businesses and other organizations to pick up trash and debris from non-interstate highways.
The agreement requires participants to be responsible for a stretch of road, usually about one to three miles, for a two year period. The adopting group agrees to clean up at least four times a year. Participants are supplied with gear like reflective vests, hats and trash bags and go through safety training provided by SHA.
Weintzweig, who usually works alone, typically collects litter four to five times a year during spring, summer and fall. He will usually fill at least six large bags, which are collected by the SHA after Weintzweig completes his work.
Over the years, Weintzweig has noticed a few areas along his stretch of road that seem to accumulate a lot of trash. Bus stops, like the one in between Goodyear tires and Franklin High School, tend to be troublesome, as do vacant lots. The worst spot seems to be near Berrymans Lane. Behind a low wall, a row of hedges concealed a large cache of everything from plastic soda bottles to hub caps.
“It’s always stuff that people don’t want or need,” he said. “I think sometimes it falls off a truck or gets blown into the street, but sometimes it’s just people tossing things without thinking about it. Out of sight, out of mind.”
To Weintzweig, the litter that accumulates along the roadsides is not only unsightly, but it can make people think there is no reason not to litter.
“When people see trash I think they say to themselves ‘that’s nasty,’ and then it encourages more people to dump right on top of it,” he said.
As he cleans up this stretch of road, Weintzweig feels a great sense of personal accomplishment.
“It’s just one thing to do that really helps a lot of people,” he said. “I’m a family guy, and there are a lot of families that walk up and down this road, so it makes me feel good to do it.”