Curious Mind: Roadside memorials must have a permit.
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Curious Mind: Roadside memorials must have a permit.

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Q: Are roadside memorials legal? How do you register to pay tribute to a loved one killed in a traffic accident?

A: Roadside memorials can be legal if permitted. “There is a form that needs to be filled out to make sure the roadside memorial is far enough off the road, out of the right of way, and of a standard type so it doesn’t create a traffic safety issue for drivers,” said Reed Hollinshead, public information officer for Idaho Transportation Department. “Our first concern is safety, but we don’t want to short-circuit the grieving process or disallow remembrances when they adhere to a safety standard. Each district location of ITD has a traffic office to handle the requests.”

Idaho law says, as a means of promoting road safety, the transportation department, the state police and other law enforcement officers permit relatives or friends of a person killed in a traffic accident upon a state highway may apply for a permit to erect a memorial in memory of the decedent. The memorial should be erected adjacent to the portion of the highway where the accident occurred so the memorial serves as a reminder that a fatality occurred.

The statute also said only one memorial may be placed per fatal accident.

The maximum dimensions of a memorial are 36 inches high, 16 inches wide and no more than seven pounds. Memorials should not resemble or conflict with traffic control devices, and should not use reflectors. Planting or landscaping at a memorial is not allowed.

Memorials must be erected near the milepost where the accident occurred. The person installing the memorial is responsible for contacting a utility company to identify the location of any utilities in the area. The applicant is also required to meet on-site with the department highway maintenance supervisor to review the proposed installation. The supervisor will be responsible for final approval.

Memorials must be placed a minimum of 20 feet from the roadway shoulder. Placement of a memorial in the median of any interstate or non-interstate highway or within the boundaries of incorporated cities is prohibited.

Permittees should park their vehicle away from the travel lanes and in an area where there is adequate sight distance on the highway in both directions. They must wear proper safety attire and obey all safety procedures approved by the department.

The department is not responsible for maintenance, vandalism, damage, or theft of a memorial.

Memorials not installed in compliance, not maintained in good condition, or create a traffic hazard are subject to removal by the department.

“You should check with the agency that controls the right-of-way where the memorial will be placed like the city engineering department, highway district or state department of transportation,” said Woody Cullen, code enforcement officer for the city of Twin Falls.

Have a question? Just ask and we’ll find an answer for you. Email your question to Kimberly Williams Brackett at with “Curious Mind” in the subject line.


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