"Along highways, *illegal* reminders of tragedies"
Along highways, a reminder of tragedies
By Chris Coates
A few days after a wrong-way driver slammed into a Chevrolet Aveo and killed three passengers near Edwardsville, a makeshift memorial sprouted in the grassy median on Illinois Route 255 near the accident site. Down a small ravine and past some tall reeds, the hodgepodge shrine is a blur for most motorists zipping past at 65 mph - a few stuffed animals, a plush Valentine's heart, some handwritten signs.
For families and friends of car accident victims, such roadside tributes are reminders of lives lost. But for departments assigned to making sure roads are safe and uniform, the eye-catching crosses, faux flowers and wreathes present some major safety concerns - and a thorny situation when the markers block views or draw too much attention.
"It does distract drivers. I don't think people think about that," said Gary Stahlhut, who heads the Madison County Highway and Bridges Department, the agency charged with maintaining hundreds of roadways in unincorporated areas, including a handful with memorials to victims.
#1. "RE: Along highways, *illegal* reminders of tragedies" In response to Reply # 0
"We don't regulate them," said State Police Trooper Lt. Scott Compton, even though the unlicensed signs are technically illegal. "That's not something we're involved in."
Especially concerning are state highways, where white crosses - some worn, some with faded photos - seem to appear every few miles on some stretches.
For $200, the agency will erect a 36-by-24-inch blue sign with white letters reading "Please don't drink and drive" and the victim's name near the site of crashes involving alcohol. The first sign was installed in October outside Chicago.
For Hughes, she hopes the memorial to her loved ones remains to remind everyone about her family's loss. She's not interested in any sign - the marker is far more powerful, Hughes said.
#2. "RE: Along highways, *illegal* reminders of tragedies" In response to Reply # 1
I think that's kinda lame that the local government will take advantage of these people and charge them $200 for the privilege of making a sign proclaiming a life was snuffed out by some idiot. If they're willing to erect a sign for each person killed, then they're in no position to enforce the homemade crosses and signs on the grounds that they're distracting or block line-of-sight.