Darth Vader cleaning a highway in Virginia

BLACKSBURG (WSLS 10) – One of the most infamous villains in movie history will soon be cleaning a highway near you.

A sign along U.S. 460 near the Toms Creek Road Bridge in Blacksburg said the highway is adopted by Darth Vader.

In reality, Montgomery County Schools bus driver Henry Wakley is the man behind the sign. He’s already cleaned the highway twice since adopting it last August.

“I just thought it would be funny for people to drive by, see the sign first and then actually see someone dressed up picking up trash,” Wakley said.

(Photo courtesy Henry Wakley via WSLS)
(Photo courtesy Henry Wakley via WSLS)

Blacksburg resident Shay McLaughlin was in disbelief when she saw the sign for the first time. She pulled over to tweet about it.

“Maybe I just haven’t had my coffee, maybe I’m still asleep,” McLaughlin thought at the time. “But I pulled over the other day and took a good look and took a picture. Sure enough, it said adopt a highway by Darth Vader.”

It turns out the creative name is not only legal, it was approved by VDOT. Engineer David Clarke was surprised when the Wakley’s application came across his desk.

“Jimmy Buffett fans and the Parrot Head Association have a sign somewhere (in Virginia),” Clarke said. “But there’s really nothing on this galactic level.”

Wakley had to pass several standard guidelines, including two highway clean ups, before VDOT would agree to the sign. He convinced the agency the sign was not a joke, and he intended to take care of the highway and draw attention to the adopt a highway program.

“We’d love to have more people follow Mr. Vader’s example and help us keep the highways clean,” Clarke professed.

Drivers could soon see more than just a sign. Wakley plans to clean up his portion of the highway in his Darth Vader costume later this month.

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