New battle erupts over roadside memorials
March 12, 2006
LAS VEGAS (AP) – Less than a month after a state agency announced a policy concerning them, roadside memorials have triggered a new fight in Nevada.
John Holliday of Henderson has lodged protests with the Nevada Department of Transportation and Gov. Kenny Guinn’s office over wooden crosses erected at fatal crash sites along Nevada Route 160 in Clark County.
His complaint represents the latest chapter in an ongoing statewide controversy over the memorials.
“Crosses belong in graveyards. They don’t belong on the side of highways,” Holliday told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
“First of all, it’s a distraction to drivers. Secondly, it’s littering our highways with crosses. I don’t want a cross on a section of highway I drive every day,” he said.
But Suzan Hudson said she views the 4-foot crosses she has put up along the highway as a reminder to drivers that the road is dangerous.
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Six white crosses bearing crash dates have been posted so far and plans call 15 more to be erected soon. Twenty-one people have died in accidents along a 50-mile stretch of the highway since last March.
“I’m shocked that anybody in their right mind opposes this,” she said. “If they’re against roadside visuals that create distractions, you’d have to go after the billboard companies first.
“They don’t create a distraction … We want drivers to really be cautious and recognize there’s been a lot of fatalities,” she added.
NDOT spokesman Bob McKenzie said agency workers plan to inspect the crosses to ensure they comply with the policy.
After nearly two years of often emotional debate, NDOT last month announced rules that require the memorials to be small and temporary, and not pose a safety hazard or distraction.
“We hope those crosses won’t be a distraction to the motorists,” McKenzie told the Review-Journal. “As long as those signs don’t provide a safety problem or distraction to motorists, we generally allow those.”
The agency had considered several policy options after concerns were raised over an 8-foot cross erected in memory of 9-year-old Krystal Steadman who was murdered in 2000 and whose body was left near Spooner Summit on U.S. 50 above Carson City.