Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Local couple adopts Asian highway

After all the red tape and years of waiting for the Illinois Adopt-a-Highway program to grant their wish of having their very own section of interstate to care for, Jeff and Jennifer Reed of Downers Grove grew frustrated and decided to take a very different route, yet one that is becoming more travelled with road-less couples in recent years. The Reeds will join the thousands of Americans who are adopting foreign roads and freeways.

While there is no shortage of needy expressways, thoroughfares and turnpikes in the United States, the time it takes to complete the adoption process has become burdensome and frustrating for Americans like the Reeds and so they settled on pursuing an adoption in China.

They had long considered other Asian countries like Laos and Thailand, as well as some locations in Central America. Finally narrowing their search to China, they eventually settled on looking at parts of the beltway just outside of Tianjin, a port city located along the Hai He River.

As it turns out, the Reeds made the right decision and adoption approval came quickly. With much anticipation and relief, they hopped on a plane to the opposite side of the world to finally see the two-mile stretch of the four-lane Chinese freeway they had been mercifully granted.

Jeff Reed explained that China was an optimal choice for them because of the millions of miles of un-adopted highways. Due to a recent bustling economy which is seeing a larger percentage of white collar workers and an increasingly skilled workforce, there are fewer and fewer people willing to take care of these growing number of abandoned roads. It is being called the Peking Parkway Crisis.

“It’s so sad,” Jeff Reed said. “You really can’t go more than a mile or two outside the city without running into a stretch of roadway that has no one to care for it.”

Jennifer Reed said that they have also wrestled with concerns about about how they would end up taking care of their newly adopted highway.

“We really debated about how we would treat it,” she said, “but in the end, we felt it best to maintain it like an American road because that’s what we are most familiar with.”

Upon arrival to the Tianjin area, they were driven by their local placement counselor past the littered and overgrown roads on the way to see their newly acquired bundle of asphalt and concrete. Jennifer Reed shook her head and wiped a tear from her cheek, and expressed how sad it was to see all of these unkempt, unloved miles.

“I just wish we could adopt them all!” she said.

As the car approached their allocated section, they could see a green sign surrounded by empty orange trashbags on the side of the road. An armed Chinese policeman stood stoic next to the sign; a welcoming sight. The Reeds thought back to all the waiting, the paperwork, the classes taken at the local community college about Chinese gathering techniques. Everything was now culminating to this one emotional event.

The couple’s eyes lit up as they got to their their destination. Getting out out of the vehicle they walked hand in hand, crying tears of joy as they approached the sign. A sign they had waited years to see. A sign, written in Chinese pīnyīn characters, that simply read:

Litter cleanup under penalty of imprisonment
next 3 km – The Reeds – USA

“Hope we know what we got ourselves into,” Jeff Reed said with a chuckle as he handed a orange vest and bag to his wife.

Local couple adopts Asian highway

No comments:

Post a Comment