IRVINE : Fraternity to 'Adopt' Portion of Route 73

A fraternity at UC Irvine today will become the first organization in Orange County to "adopt" a highway under a new program initiated by the California Department of Transportation.

As part of the state's Adopt-a-Highway program, Pi Kappa Phi has agreed to adopt the portion of Route 73 between Bonita Canyon Drive to San Miguel in Irvine. The fraternity has dedicated two years to keeping the roadway free of litter and maintaining its beauty by planting bushes, trees and wild flowers.

Fraternity president Jim Rundle said his organization was prompted to adopt the highway by similar programs by fraternities in Texas and in keeping with the policy of its national organization to participate in community activities.

"We're a new fraternity on campus," Rundle said. "We thought this would be a good opportunity to help the community and to better the image of our fraternity."

A ceremony recognizing the group will be held at 11 a.m. today at the Caltrans Irvine Maintenance Station, at 19919 1/2 MacArthur Blvd., Irvine.

Groups participating in the Adopt-a-Highway program must meet safety requirements by providing workers with hard hats and red vests and agreeing not to work during harsh weather or on major holiday weekends, said Ralph Carhart, statewide coordinator of the project.

"We allow any business or organization, profit or nonprofit, to participate," he said, noting that church groups, civic organizations and other community groups typically participate in the program. Carhart said that statewide, more than 130 groups have adopted highways in their area.

Initiated in 1989, the program seeks to reduce the cost of maintaining California roadways by getting businesses, groups and individuals involved in maintaining the state's freeways and highways.

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