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Back in January I introduced LB 612, a bill for highway memorial signs. This idea came to me from Allan Kreman, a resident of Bayard, as a way to honor his brother, Arlyn, who was struck and killed by a drunk driver a few years ago on highway 26.
While the bill never advanced out of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee, I began working with the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) this year to implement a new highway memorial policy in lieu of my bill. Today I can proudly announce that NDOT has implemented a brand new highway memorial policy and I would like to tell you a little bit about it.
Immediate family members wishing to memorialize the death of a loved one as the result of a fatal traffic accident may now submit an application with NDOT. The application is available online at the department’s website or by downloading the pdf file at: dot.nebraska.gov/media/13535/ndot-roadside-memorial-policy.pdf. NDOT has yet to include an online payment method for collecting the $50 application fee.
As far as eligibility goes, there are two exceptions to the rule. Highway memorial signs will not be erected for those who were operating a motor vehicle and whose blood alcohol content level was equal to or exceeded the legal limit, nor will signs be erected for those who were found to be driving while impaired by the use of a recreational or illicit substance.
Each highway memorial sign will have a blue background with white lettering and will include the names of one or two deceased loved ones. In addition, each highway memorial sign will also include one of five traffic safety messages. These messages include: Please Drive Safely, Seat Belts Save Lives, Don’t Drink and Drive, Don’t Text and Drive, and Don’t Drive Impaired.
NDOT will make every effort to place these highway memorial signs at or near the requested locations with a few exceptions. Highway memorial signs cannot be placed within municipal boundaries nor can they be placed on Interstate highways or freeways.
Each sign will be posted for a one-year period along with the option to renew for another year. Personally, I would like to see NDOT extend the one-year period to two or more years, and I will continue to push for this change in the policy. However, once NDOT removes a sign, the applicant will have 30 days to retrieve and keep the sign at no extra charge.
Another bill that I introduced in January was LB 371, a bill to allow ATV’s to cross divided state highways. I continue to work with NDOT to create a workable policy for operating ATV’s on state roads and highways in our state. This issue is much more complex than highway memorial signs due to the changing demographics of our state. What is good for rural Nebraska doesn’t always work well in our state’s more populated regions. Nevertheless, I will continue to work with NDOT to find a workable solution for operating ATV’s on Nebraska’s roadways.