Things to look for while traveling on New York’s Long Island Expressway and Bronx River Parkway: the nearest Wendy’s, jackknifed tractor-trailers, and Bette Midler. As a thank you to the actress, who’s donating $2,000 a month for trash pickup, New York City’s Adopt-A-Highway program has emblazoned her name on stretches of these two well-worn roads.
This isn’t Midler’s first foray into highway beautification. In 1991 she adopted a stretch of L.A.’s Ventura Freeway — and she once played an anti-litter vigilante on The Simpsons. The motive behind Miss M’s Green campaign? ”She adopts a highway because it needs it,” says her publicist, who added that Midler is recording an album in New York.
Midler joins Robin Williams, who’s helping tidy up New York’s Grand Central Parkway, as one of the few noncorporate adopters. Among those who give Midler’s road show a thumbs-up is JFK Airport shuttle-bus driver Tex Vodvarka. ”We get a lot of tourists commenting on all the garbage,” he says. Nonetheless, he’s a bit skeptical. ”As soon as they clean it up, some guy’s gonna throw a beer can out the window. It’s New York.”