Your morning jolt: Say goodbye to those roadside crosses

Say good-bye to those roadside crosses that mark Georgia’s traffic fatalities.

Who knew they were never supposed to be there in the first place? The state Department of Transportation issued this notice on Tuesday:

roadsidememorial

Courtesy of the Georgia Department of Transportation

Signs memorializing persons killed in traffic incidents now will be allowed on federal and state highway right of way in Georgia, the Department of Transportation announced today.

Fifteen-inch, round white signs with the black-lettered message “Drive Safely; In Memory; (the deceased’s name) can be requested by family or friends for a $100 fabrication and installation fee. The sign will remain in place for one year; after which time it will be removed and given to the requesting sponsor.

“We believe this will appropriately address the desires of an individual’s family and friends to note their passing while allowing the Department to maintain safety and uniformity along our roadways,” Georgia DOT Commissioner Vance C. Smith, Jr., said.

Family or friends (with approval of immediate family) of individuals killed in accidents on federal and state routes on or after July 1, 2010, may request a sign by submitting a written application, the pertinent accident report and the $100 fee to the Department’s Maintenance Engineer.

But one had to click on the attached link to see that makeshift crosses would no longer be tolerated:

The fabrication, installation, maintenance and removal of the memorial marker will be the responsibility of GDOT. Memorial markers will be allowed to remain for a maximum of one (1) year. No other memorial signs or structures or additions to this memorial sign will be allowed on the rights of way.

As cultural icons go, roadside crosses – often elaborate affairs – are fairly recent phenomena. It’s hard to say how attached we are to them. But keep an ear out for people complaining that impromptu religious symbols ought not to be replaced with paid-for pie plates.

***
That piece by Randy Travis of Fox5 News, on illegal immigrant workers at school construction sites, has already had some effect. From this morning’s Marietta Daily Journal:

Cobb School District officials said Tuesday that a subcontractor has been fired from the new ninth grade center at North Cobb High School project amid reports he was not verifying his workers immigration status.

Of the allegations, the district “does not consider this an acceptable situation,” according to a statement, though the statement also said the district “is not aware of any illegal workers” on the North Cobb High project.

On Monday, the Fox Atlanta television station aired a report in which an undercover camera was sent on the job site with a member of the advocacy group Jobs for Georgians. The person wearing the camera asked the man in charge of the masonry contractors if papers are needed to work on the site.

***
Legislators will gather in Senate chambers this afternoon to elect representatives to the State Transportation Board. Incumbent David Doss of Rome, from the 11th congressional district, is the many everyone will be watching. He’s being challenged by Jeff Lewis, a former state representative from Cartersville, and John Wiles, the former state senator from Cobb County.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on Facebook.

191 comments Add your comment

Aquagirl

February 9th, 2011
9:20 am

Cobb has “not been aware of” all those illegal immigrants for years. Kind of like they’ve “not been aware of” Grady that the workers use for healthcare, thus shifting the cost for Cobb’s cheap labor onto other municipalities. On the other hand they sure are aware of their much bragged-about lower tax rates, achieved thru the miracle of right wing personal responsibility government. It’s like magic!

Brian

February 9th, 2011
9:28 am

There was an abandoned couch on I285 on the shoulder at marker 258 for almost two months. To get GDOT to clear dangerous road debris is cumbersome now– I called twice.

Giving GDOT employees authority to take down remembrances by family members and friends for love lost is thoughtless. The markers are a more poignant and effective deterence because it is an obvious heartfelt physical representation of sorrow and loss. The shrines are effectively a prayer manifested in a memorial.

I suspect there is a racist bent to this– most I suspect are put up by hispanic emigres. The shrines are all over the southwest US.

I suggest to Mr. Vance– instead of your dumb state sponsored “death” signs– go out and buy some snow plows and salt and keep people from getting killed in the first place!

Drive Safely

February 9th, 2011
9:31 am

wonderful news—it’s about time the road crosses, etc came to a halt. people need to focus on where their loved one is buried. if they don’t own the property the sign/cross/etc is on or it’s on the state’s right of way then one year of “marking the scene” should be plenty. glad to see dept. of transportation finally taking action on this.

Lum

February 9th, 2011
9:33 am

Sounds like Brian got up on the wrong side of the bed…..

Decaturobert

February 9th, 2011
9:35 am

I do love me some Aquagirl in the morning!

Pappa Grizzly

February 9th, 2011
9:43 am

So the GDOT hates christians and the cross. No surprise there. All government employees at all levels are just a bunch of do-nothing, whiny liberal, christian haters.

And all you whiny libs wonder why the Georgia Legislature wants to ban sharia law. Clearly they also need to clean all of the jihadists out of GDOT while they are at it.

atlfunlvr

February 9th, 2011
9:45 am

How large of a department will be created for these touching monuments and why do legislators from Cartersville and Rome event get a vote on transportations issues?

Brian

February 9th, 2011
9:55 am

Hey LUM there is a 6 ft wood triangular support that was left on I285 eastbound, at HWY 78– it’s been there for more than 30 days.

As to you comment, I got up on the “right” side of the bed– you on the other hand should start using the “right” side of your brain and pay more attention to what’s going on.

If you did, you’d be annoyed too.

Dave

February 9th, 2011
9:57 am

I’m Jewish, and please let me state for the record that the Jews in Atlanta absolutely have no problem with people erecting roadside crosses honoring their lost loved ones. Please do not blame us for this particular act of government.

deegee

February 9th, 2011
9:58 am

Surig and Son masonry company haven’t been paying their undocumented workers fully for their work. Their website is full of glowing testimonials to the fine work that they did. Why do we allow this to go on?

Sandy Springs Derek

February 9th, 2011
10:01 am

Brian your wrong. We need to clean-up the trash on our highways. After a while those ‘monuments’ will blow around trash the roadsides and then we look like a third world country. I think this is a very admirable accommodation created by the GDOT: A PERFECT AND REASONABLE SOLUTION to this issue.

Christian Government Employee

February 9th, 2011
10:03 am

Next time you need help assistantance call your non government employee friends who are not whiny, liberal, christian haters and see what kind of response you get. I think you will find most government employees are far more Christian then you have just been by saying all government employees are this way.

luangtom

February 9th, 2011
10:04 am

As far as a ban on road-side markers being implemented by “Christian-haters”, this is absurd. Grieve at the grave-side, grieve at the funeral, grieve at home. What purpose does it serve to put impromptu markers along roadways? If you cannot grieve at the burial-site or at home, you need counseling. Just the mere act of being out in traffic and stopped to install these markers is inviting another fatality. Use some common-sense.

Deal With It

February 9th, 2011
10:04 am

About time they cleaned the redneck roadside crap up, it was starting to look like South Carolina with all the eyesores people put up.

JeromeMJ

February 9th, 2011
10:05 am

Why would anyone want to memorialize some young drunk who killed themselves or their friends. It is wrong to do this for people who are dead because they did something bad.

keith mercer

February 9th, 2011
10:09 am

Good move by GDOT. Pretty soon people will be putting up effigy of the people killed. For you people with a Georgia education an effigy is a figure or a model.

Bwana

February 9th, 2011
10:11 am

It sounds like another “tax” to me…$100 for fabrication and installation. Give me a break. What’s the profit in that deal? I’d say 400% minimum.

Government Worker

February 9th, 2011
10:17 am

Hey Pappa Grizzly, I’m a government employee and a CHRISTIAN!!!! One has nothing to do with the other. And yes I do actually work and am old enough to know it does no good to whine.

LizBeth

February 9th, 2011
10:18 am

A two-lane section of Highway 431 from Phenix City, Alabama, southward has been covered in crosses. At one point, I counted approximately 40. It was a always a sober reminder to take more care when coming back from the beach because the road was dangerous. Crosses are not just memorials for families; they are reminders to be careful “here.”

Dave

February 9th, 2011
10:22 am

@luangtom, You are the one that needs some common sense.

Muhammad al-Mohammed

February 9th, 2011
10:22 am

This is horrible news. As a devout Muslim, I have erected many 6′ diameter Star and Crescent memorials all over GA. Why are they attempting to silence religious freedom? It’s clear that GDOT hates Abrahamic people like Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Let’s all join together to fight this and bring religion back to Georgia’s roadways and public spaces!

Tron

February 9th, 2011
10:24 am

I don’t care who is elected for the GDOT board post. Just want Doss or Lewis to stop the current plan for the US 411 Connector in that district. It costs taxpayers $182 million more than other routes and blasts through a mountain-conservation easement-historic mine. If they slightly modify the route, the road won’t lose its funding and they would only have to complete the environmental work for the modified section. Plus, it will get built faster and not hung up in court. This group of residents near that area has it pegged… http://www.coalitionfortherightroad.com.

eatmotacos

February 9th, 2011
10:26 am

Re: Illegal immgrant workers at school construction sites

The Real Deal will probably have something to say about this. Apparently, it is ok to have an unlevel playing field for Georgia businesses. We wouldn’t want to do anything to scare all of that cheap immigrant labor away from Georgia, so long as ignorant voters, by their choice of politicans, are willing to keep financially supporting them.

luangtom

February 9th, 2011
10:29 am

Dave@10:22…why is it common sense to endanger yourself and others putting up “feel good” roadside memorials?

The DOT s&cks

February 9th, 2011
10:30 am

I am no conservative Christian… but the removal of these road signs and the replacement of them with PAID FOR DOT signs is crass and vulgar. To charge a grieving family $100 for this remembrance is disgusting. Perhaps instead of trying to raise $100 per highway death, the DOT could focus some of its already vast wealth on more important projects. But then again, our Republican leaders will do nothing to try and control the DOT. it owns this state lock, stock and orange barrel.

Red

February 9th, 2011
10:30 am

Drive Safely – you do realize that memorials where people die are all over the place right? Even state/government sanctioned? It does not matter where people are buried. Lighten up. Clearly you have some sort of issue with the fact people want to mourn the spot where their loved one died. I guess you need to take it up with all of the parks and monuments around as well.

If someone pays out of their own pocket and it does not obstruct the road or endanger lives, what is the point?

Edie

February 9th, 2011
10:31 am

Every time I pass a cross on the roadside, I am reminded to drive safely and I am touched by the personal demonstrations of the love for our fellow men.

Each time the State steps in with a “cookie cutter” approach, we lose a bit of our humanity. Is this what we really want to do?

Patrick

February 9th, 2011
10:32 am

Like street art, murals, and graffiti, Roadside crosses are a small way we personalize and humanize the public realm. Banning them for the sake of “uniformity” shows how out of touch transportation officials are, stuck in 1950s taste.

Travis Fain

February 9th, 2011
10:33 am

re: roadside crosses. What an issue to spend political capital on.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by AJC , Jim Galloway, Thomas L. Strickland, rohanlawpc, Jennifer Brett and others. Jennifer Brett said: The Georgia DOT, focusing on what *really* matters, has declared roadside crosses illegal http://bit.ly/f3i4PD <— good luck enforcing that [...]

Liz

February 9th, 2011
10:36 am

This just sounds like an insensitive way for the DOT to increase their revenues.

shaggy

February 9th, 2011
10:38 am

Pappa Grizzly

You do know that grizzly bears are terrible fathers that often kill their own cubs, or any younger/weaker grizzly that they come across, don’t you?

rooster

February 9th, 2011
10:40 am

If we want the roads to look better, how about we start with actual trash? We should impose more and stiffer penalties for littering, and for failing to secure the contents of open-bed trucks. We should aggressively penalize those who plant “litter-on-a-stick” – signs advertising various services – hell, the perpetrators put their phone numbers right on the things, so they ought to be easy to contact. And we should enact more restrictive limits on the 75-foot litter called billboards. How is is OK to have 75-foot signs advertising dog-tracks and casinos, but not OK for families to place markers where their loved ones perished? Go down I-85 toward LaGrange. Along about Hogansville, there are six or eight huge billboards on both sides of the highway. Ugly as a mud fence, and not a nice reflection on our state. Of course there are plenty of other billboard forests like this around the state.
And speaking of forests, how about dealing with kudzu that covers roadside trees in some places? The example I pass regularly is northbound on I-185 near La Grange just before it merges into I-85. Another is an otherwise magnificent lone pine on northbound I-75 in the city just below the Northside Dr. exit. All they’d need to do is sever the kudzu vines 10 or 12 feet above the ground now and then to keep this evil invasive plant from nourishing itself. The mass of kudzu up in the trees would eventually break up and fall out.
I dare say nobody loves Georgia any more than I do. And it really breaks my heart to see our beautiful green state sullied by litter of both the individual and corporate varieties. I think GDOT needs to re-order its priorities concerning the appearance of our roadsides.

deb

February 9th, 2011
10:40 am

Brian, I agree completely with what you wrote aboaut GDOT. It’s exactly the first thing I thought as I read that piece.

deb

February 9th, 2011
10:42 am

Rooster, another good point on the kudzu. Put them to work Permanently clearing the Kudzu (i.e. removing by the roots!) instead of messing with roadside memorials.

re: crosses on hwy 431

February 9th, 2011
10:43 am

Lizbeth mentioned the dozens of crosses on hwy 431, south of Phenix City, AL. Does anyone know the story behind them? There are dozens of idenitcal crosses along one stretch.

I agree with most of the folks on the blog that think that the government needs to stay OUT of the roadside memorial business. Stick to paving roads, plowing snow, and other legitimate issues.

Dekalb taxpayer

February 9th, 2011
10:43 am

What a waste of legislation. Do they really think the people who erect those roadside monuments will stop doing it because it’s illegal? And if they don’t have the manpower to remove a piece of furniture from a road, where are they going to get the manpower to take down all of the roadside crosses?

KCR

February 9th, 2011
10:44 am

I’m curious what it means for the war memorial crosses that go up in Gwinnett County every Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Aquagirl

February 9th, 2011
10:44 am

At least roadside crosses give us something to look at while we’re stuck in traffic, or waiting on a tow truck after hitting a VW sized pothole.

Memorials Along the Highway

February 9th, 2011
10:45 am

It’s about time to minimize roadside memorials that cause drivers distractions and are sometimes unsightly. The expressway and roadside is not the place to memorialize someone you loved. Has anyone considered the cost of personnel to remove and dispose of those signs? Roughly, $100 could be considered affordable in comparison to the cost of a headstone in the cemetary starting at $1200. Additionally, after one year the purchaser is given the memorial sign to perhaps erect in his/her front yard (if neighbors do not protest), living room, or the cemetary where memorial signs belongs.

shaggy

February 9th, 2011
10:50 am

STOP THROWING TRASH OUT OF YOUR CAR WINDOWS!
You don’t see that west of the Mississippi, only in the east, and Georgia is terrible about this. Just go ride through the beautiful Georgia mountains and look at the trash that is tossed out…beer cans, fast food, plastic bags, etc…
It is embarassing and it makes us look like a state full of slobs.

rightofway

February 9th, 2011
10:50 am

And lets enforce the law that says no real estate signs should belong in the right-of-way either. That is a huge problem with little to no enforcement of the existing laws that prohibit it. Get crackin’ on that one, DOT.

Billy

February 9th, 2011
10:50 am

I can’t believe that some element of anti-Christian bias is not involved with this decision, but we have anti-Christian bigots everywhere these days. More loss of freedom. Also, I wouldn’t refer to the cross markers as “trash.” Some loved one died at near that marker–that’s why it’s there, Einstein…

Pizen

February 9th, 2011
10:52 am

It figures. Folks now can’t choose what kind of memorial they’d like for their departed loved ones. Now they must purchase a pie plate from the government. Uniformity, you see, is the forerunner of the fascist state. And for the record, I am conservative with a libertarian bent when it comes to individual freedoms.

Centrist

February 9th, 2011
10:58 am

Why does it matter what religion folks belonged to when killed at a specific place in an accident?
I have no problem with the new system, and it can be done along side of litter and kudzu control.

The second issue of requiring government subcontractors to follow the law by taking the logical step to insure they are not using ILLEGAL aliens is a no-brainer. Except to those who openly or secretly advocate open borders.

OedipusTax

February 9th, 2011
10:59 am

Just one more example of the heartless, senseless, secular state. Those roadside remembrances do no harm to anybody, and are normally done in a tasteful manner. The pain of loss, how terrible! But next to the needs ot the omnipotent, secular state? Who cares about the individual? Then, why do so many seem to always want more of this heartless, unloving, sterile government? Beats the hell out of me.

IGNORANTS ON PARAID

February 9th, 2011
11:02 am

I live in Henry Co. We’ve had one memorial ten plus years and another over 5 years. When is enough, enough? Don’t we have limitations on commercial signage and advertising?

IGNORANTS ON PARAID

February 9th, 2011
11:08 am

To all of the deeply offended, would you oppose McDonalds, CVS, BP, et.al placing their signage next to these memorials? Instead of crying religious persecution, research equal protection under the law.

atlfunlvr

February 9th, 2011
11:09 am

They better not mess with the mid-Georgia massage parlor signs!

stupid tradition

February 9th, 2011
11:12 am

what a dumb “tradition” anyway…roadside memorials… that what the graveyards are for…who needs the added distraction? Do you plant a cross in the desk chair of those who keel over at work? How about paint a cross on the warehouse floor of those unfortunates killed in accidents there? Dumb….