|(a) Purpose. The Adopt-a-Highway for Landscaping Program (Program) augments the Adopt-a-Highway Program, established in §12.3 of this subchapter (relating to Adopt-a-Highway Program) by allowing groups to adopt a section of rural state highway right-of-way for landscape development and maintenance to enhance the beauty of rural Texas highways while preserving the integrity of native Texas flora and providing litter pickup. 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 rural section of the state highway system for landscape development and maintenance and litter pickup. (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; and (iii) families. (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. (3) Current participating groups. Groups currently participating in the Program for litter control will be given the opportunity to expand their scope of support by adopting their respective sections of highway right-of-way as a landscape project if their section satisfies requirements relating to right-of-way width, highway geometrics, sight distance, and safety considerations. (c) Application. (1) The authorized representative of a group who desires to participate, or continue to participate, in the Program shall submit an application to the district engineer of the district in which the proposed adopted section 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 the street address, of the group; (C) the name, telephone number, and complete mailing address, including street address, of the authorized representative of the group; (D) the highway section the group is interested in adopting; (E) whether the group proposes to adopt the section for project development, establishment, and maintenance only, or also for litter control in accordance with §12.3 of this subchapter; and (F) the project design plan, including sketches, drawings, and specifications as may be required by the department to illustrate the level of landscape development. (3) Groups currently participating in the Adopt-a-Highway Program will be required to indicate on the application their current participation in such Program. (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 enter into 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 at a minimum include the following terms. (A) The project design plan furnished by the group shall consist of plans, sketches, drawings, notes, and specifications required to fully illustrate the level of project development proposed. (B) The group shall acknowledge the hazardous nature of the work involved in participating in the Program. (C) The group shall agree that its members are jointly and severally to be bound by and comply with the terms of the agreement. (D) The project design plan shall be subject to the approval of the department. (E) All costs, materials, labor, and equipment necessary for project development shall be furnished by the group. (F) All costs, materials, labor, and equipment necessary to provide for project establishment and maintenance for a period specified by the department, such period being not less than two consecutive years following the completion of project development, shall be furnished by the group. (G) The respective responsibilities of the group and the department as cited in subsection (e) of this section. (H) Conditions by which the agreement may be terminated. (I) A provision to satisfy legal relations and responsibilities to the public, including insurance and traffic control. (3) The department's decision will be final with respect to any disputes that may arise concerning the group's responsibilities under the agreement. (e) Responsibilities of group and department. (1) Groups must: (A) appoint an authorized representative who shall have the authority to execute the agreement as defined in subsection (d) of this section; (B) obey and abide by all laws and regulations relating to safety, and legal relations to the public, and such other terms and conditions as may be required by the district engineer for special conditions on a particular adopted section; (C) comply with §12.3 of this subchapter if participation includes that Program; (D) furnish adequate supervision by one or more adults for participants who are 15 years of age or younger; (E) conduct at least two safety meetings per year and ensure participants of the group attend at least one safety meeting before participating in the cleanup of the adopted section; (F) adopt the section of highway for a minimum period of two years; (G) adopt only those sections of highway determined by the department to be appropriate for project development and maintenance; (H) provide for the establishment of plant material; (I) water all plant material except seeding at least twice per month during the months of April through September, and at least once per month during the months of October through March, unless in the opinion of the department, sufficient natural rainfall has occurred; (J) remove weeds and vegetative matter from within the watering basins of all installed plant material at least once per month during the months of April through September, and at least once every other month during the months of October through March; (K) assure that the fold-down traffic control signs are folded open during project participation and returned to the closed position after project completion each day; (L) assure each individual participant of the group wears department-furnished safety vests while on the adopted section; (M) neither possess nor consume alcoholic beverages while on the adopted section; (N) maintain a first-aid kit and adequate drinking water while on the adopted section; and (O) act as an independent contractor during project participation. (2) A group may not subcontract or assign its project responsibilities to any other group, organization, or enterprise, unless expressly authorized by the department. (3) The department will: (A) work with the group to determine the specific section of the state highway right-of-way to be adopted; (B) comply with §12.3 of this subchapter if litter control is included as a portion of the application; (C) review the group's design plan for project development and reserves the right to require modifications to the design prior to approval; and (D) provide for the installation of suitable Adopt-a-Highway for Landscaping signs in accordance with existing regulations relating to the Adopt-a-Highway Program, including §12.3(f)(3) of this subchapter. (f) General limiting conditions and eligibility. The Program is subject to the following conditions. (1) Only highway right-of-way eligible for the Program for litter control and only those sections which are deemed appropriate for landscape development, as determined by the department, may be adopted. Unless otherwise approved by the department, controlled access highways or routes within urban or metropolitan areas are not eligible for adoption. (2) The department may consider such factors as width of right-of-way, geometrics, congestion, and sight distance of roadways in determining what highway shall be eligible for adoption. (3) Limits for adopted sections for landscape development will be subject to the approval of the department. (4) Plant material will be limited to native and adapted trees, shrubs and wildflower and grass seeding activities. (5) Groups currently participating in the Adopt-a-Highway Program which submit an application under subsection (c) of this section to participate in the Program may only adopt within the limits of the original adopted section. Project maintenance shall be performed for a period as specified by the department, such period being not less than two consecutive years following the completion of the project development. (6) Sections currently adopted under the Adopt-a-Highway Program shall not be eligible for adoption under the Adopt-a-Highway for Landscaping Program by any other group until the original adoption under the Adopt-a-Highway Program has expired. (7) Signs shall be four feet by four feet and shall be the least expensive and most effective for each situation. (8) With the exception of the Adopt-a-Highway Program, work under the Adopt-a-Highway for Landscaping Program will not be combined with any other landscape-related program sponsored by the department. (9) 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 all necessary remedial actions, including, but not limited to, the removal of signs displaying the group's name or acronym. (g) Modification/renewal/termination of the agreement. The agreement may be modified in any manner at the sole discretion of the department. The group will have the option of renewing the agreement subject to the approval of the district engineer and the continuation of the Program. The department may terminate the 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.