Ada County Highway District releases roadside memorial proposal

To remain in the public right-of-way – the areas around the local roads, intersections and bridges – all memorials will be required to be registered with Ada County Highway District if a new proposal replaces the district’s current informal policy that largely allows memorials as long as they don’t create a hazard or block public access to the right-of-way.

The highway district announced a draft version of the policy Tuesday. It follows existing district policies and state laws that require the right-of-way to be free from distractions, sight obstructions and impediments for users to access roadway features, according to a news release from the district. If a memorial meets those requirements, then it will likely be approved, under the proposal.

The process will allow for inspections and any needed modifications to prevent the display from becoming a hazard to drivers, pedestrians or cyclists.

Unregistered memorials are subject to removal, although the district says it will make a good faith effort to contact the sponsor to register the display or remedy any issues that prevent approval. The fixes could include relocating or changing the entire display or some of its elements.

A temporary memorial can remain for up to one year, under the draft policy. Afterward, the display must be removed or converted to a permanent memorial, which would require a license agreement for use of the public right-of-way.

Ghost bikes, which have appeared across Ada County in the last several years at sites where cyclists have died, would be treated as temporary memorials.

As an alternative to a memorial, sponsors can ask for a district-supplied sign that would carry a safety message as well as the name of the person who died. The signs would comply will all of the same safety and upkeep requirements.

Memorial sponsors and critics have complained that the lack of written guidance has left too much uncertainty over what may be acceptable, prompting the district’s ruling body to ask for a policy.

The proposal can be viewed here. Send comments to tellus@achdidaho.org or to the ACHD Commission, 3775 Adams St., Garden City, ID 83714.