|(a) Purpose. The Adopt-a-Highway Program (Program) allows private citizens an opportunity to support the department's litter prevention programs by adopting a section of highway for the purpose of reducing litter on an adopted section through public participation. This section sets forth policies and procedures to be used in administering the Program. (b) Participation. (1) Adoption. An eligible group may, upon approval by the department, adopt a section of a highway on the state highway system for purposes of picking up and removing litter from the rights-of-way of that section under such terms and conditions as may be prescribed by the department and the commission. The adoption of a section of highway is a privilege that may be granted by the department to individuals or groups who would assist the Program in achieving its purpose and goals. The department may deny a request to adopt a section of highway if, in its opinion, granting the request would jeopardize the Program, be counterproductive to its purpose, or create a hazard to the safety of the traveling public. Highway safety is a principal concern in all decisions related to the Program. Program participants must agree to hold the department harmless and agree not to hold the department responsible for any injuries that they may suffer or damages they may cause or suffer as a result of participation in the Program. (2) Eligibility. (A) The following groups are eligible to participate in the Program: (i) members or employees of civic and nonprofit organizations; (ii) employees of private businesses and governmental entities; (iii) families; and (iv) individuals. (B) To be eligible a group must be located or reside in the county or a county adjacent to the county in which the adopted section is located. (C) Only individuals or groups who are responsible and wish to assist the department will be allowed to adopt a highway. (c) Application. (1) The authorized representative of a group who desires to participate, or to continue to participate, in the Program shall submit an application to the district Adopt-a-Highway coordinator of the district in which the section of highway to be adopted is located. (2) The application shall be in the form prescribed by the department and shall at a minimum include: (A) the date of application; (B) the name and complete mailing address, including street address, of the group; (C) the name, telephone number, complete mailing address, and e-mail address if applicable, of the group's authorized representative, and the same information for a secondary representative, or in the case of school or university groups, the name and contact information for a faculty sponsor; and (D) the highway section the group is interested in adopting. (d) Agreement. (1) If the application submitted by the group under subsection (c) of this section is approved by the district engineer, the authorized representative of that group shall execute a written agreement with the department providing for the group's participation in the Program. (2) The agreement shall be in the form prescribed by the department and shall include: (A) an acknowledgment by the group of the hazardous nature of the work involved in participating in the Program; (B) an acknowledgment that the members of the group agree jointly and severally to be bound by and comply with the terms of the agreement; and (C) the respective responsibilities of the group and the department as contained in subsection (e) of this section. (e) Responsibilities of group and department. (1) Groups must: (A) appoint or select an authorized representative and alternate to serve as spokesperson for the group; (B) obey and abide by all laws and regulations relating to safety and such other terms and conditions as may be required by the district engineer for special conditions on a particular adopted section; (C) furnish adequate supervision by one or more adults for minor participants of a group who are 15 years of age and older, with at least one adult for every three children who are 7 to 14 years of age; (D) conduct or attend at least two safety meetings per year and ensure participants of the group attend a safety meeting before participating in the cleanup of the adopted section; (E) adopt a section that is a minimum of two miles in length unless the district engineer determines a shorter length is in the best interests of the department; (F) adopt a section for a minimum period of two years; (G) pick up litter a minimum of four times a year at approximately quarterly intervals and at such additional times as required by the district engineer, unless the district engineer determines that two times a year is adequate to maintain an acceptable right of way (it is desired that one of these pickups occur during the department's annual Don't Mess with Texas trash-off events); (H) obtain required supplies and materials from the department during regular business hours; (I) assure that traffic control signs are open during a cleanup and returned to the closed position (or removed in the case of detachable signs) after the cleanup; (J) wear department furnished safety vests during the pickup; (K) place litter in trash bags furnished by the department, place filled trash bags at the sign base, and contact the district maintenance office the first working day after the cleanup for removal of the bags; (L) return all unused materials and supplies to the department within one week following cleanup; (M) neither possess nor consume alcoholic beverages or illegal drugs while on the adopted section; and (N) maintain a first-aid kit and adequate drinking water while picking up litter on the adopted section. (2) The department will: (A) work with the group to determine the specific section of state highway right of way to be adopted; (B) erect a sign at each end of the adopted section with the group's name or acronym displayed; (C) provide traffic control signs, safety vests, trashbags, and safety information; (D) after notification from the group, remove the filled trashbags the first workday after the pickup; and (E) remove litter from the adopted section only under unusual circumstances, i.e., to remove large, heavy, or hazardous items or if the group has not fulfilled its responsibilities. (f) General limiting conditions. The Program is subject to the following conditions. (1) The department may consider such factors as width of right of way, geometrics, congestion, and sight distance of roadways in determining what sections of highways shall be eligible for adoption. In no circumstance shall a section of an interstate highway be eligible for adoption. (2) If any actions are determined to be contrary to any legislative restrictions or any restrictions on the use of appropriated funds for political activities, the department, at its sole discretion will take any and all necessary remedial actions, including, but not limited to, the removal of signs displaying the group's name or acronym. (3) Adopt-a-Highway signs shall be four feet by four feet, shall be the least expensive and most effective for each situation, and will not state the full name or official title of an elected official. (4) A group may not subcontract or assign its responsibilities to any other group, organization, or enterprise without the express written authorization of the department. (5) The department, in no event, shall have the right to control the group in performing the details of picking up litter from the section of highway adopted by the group, and, in picking up litter, the group shall act as an independent contractor without direct, on-site supervision from the department. (6) Children under the age of seven may not participate in the Program. (g) Modification/renewal/termination of the agreement. (1) An agreement may be modified in any manner at the sole discretion of the department. (2) If the department undertakes a construction project on an adopted section, the group may suspend its agreement or choose a new section to adopt for the duration of the construction project. (3) The group will have the option of renewing an agreement subject to the approval of the district engineer and the continuation of the Program. (4) The department may terminate an agreement and remove the signs upon 30-day notice, if in its sole judgment it finds and determines that the group is not meeting the terms and conditions of the agreement. (h) Memorial adoptions. An eligible group may adopt a section of highway as a memorial to an individual who has died as a result of a motor vehicle accident on the state highway system. Except as provided in this subsection, all applicable provisions of this subchapter governing the Adopt-a-Highway program apply to memorial adoptions under this subsection. (1) The adopting group must include family members of the individual in whose memory the section of highway is adopted. (2) A sign erected for a memorial adoption may include the phrase "in memory of" and the name of the individual in whose memory the section is adopted, along with the name of the adopting group. (3) In approving memorial adoptions, the district engineer will consider: (A) the availability of sections of highway on the state highway system that are appropriate for litter control by volunteers; and (B) the potential of the proposed adoption to increase public awareness of traffic safety. (4) The requirements of subsection (b)(2)(B) of this section do not apply if the adopting group adopts the segment of highway on which the accident occurred.