It's not often the "adopt a highway" program becomes a springboard for conspiracy theorists to peddle their names, but the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) is learning first-hand that in exchange for a few hours trash cleanup, controversial organizations like the "9/11 Questions Meetup Group" can even have a road named after it.
The 9/11 "truther" group successfully filed an application to adopt a highway and will now have a sign erected bearing its name. The group, which suggests the U.S. government could have been a conspirator in the Sept. 11 attacks agreed to clean up litter on a half-mile stretch of highway four times a year in exchange for their dedication. ABCNews adds background on MoDOT's current and past strange dealings with its adopt a highway program:
This isn't the first time MoDOT has dealt with a controversial group wanting to adopt a highway. After a legal battle with a Ku Klux Klan group, MoDOT had to make a change in its policies, allowing anyone to adopt a stretch of highway. Tom Blair, assistant district engineer for MoDOT in St. Louis, told ABC News that after its battle with the KKK, the state can no longer reject a group based on its beliefs, no matter how controversial or offensive.
"MoDOT has been there," Blair said. "After they won the right to adopt, we modified the process. We had to make sure anyone could be approved."
The department's battle with the Klan began in early 2000, when the KKK applied to adopt a stretch of highway and was denied. After a five-year lawsuit, a federal judge ruled the KKK had the right to adopt a stretch of highway in St. Louis, but its sponsorship signs were routinely stolen. MoDOT appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, but was rejected.
At the time of the KKK controversy, the Missouri State Police were quoted by the AP as saying they did not have the manpower to ensure the KKK Adopt-a-Highway sign was protected from theft at all times.
The group's website sells T-shirts that bearing the catch-phrase, "The 9/11 debacle was an inside job" and others likening former President George W. Bush to Adolf Hitler's deputy, Hermann Goring.
"We are in the U.S. and everyone has the right to their viewpoint," Blair said. ABC adds:
MoDOT said it does reject applicants, but only because there is not enough road to cover the number of groups that offer their services. The stretch of road the St. Louis 9/11 Questions Meetup Group requested had not been claimed by any other organization at the time. If any group fails to pick up litter under the program's requirements, its sign is removed.
Donald Stahl, head of the 9/11 "truther" group could not be reached by ABC for comment.