I've been on the road quite a bit recently. Every time I pass a sign saying that this road is in memory of a certain person I start wondering how this happens. Today, in honor of Memorial Day, I decided to investigate.
I called MoDot (Missouri Department of Transportation) and after punching a bunch of numbers on my phone I finally got to a very nice lady who gave me much information and also told me about the Web page that had more details.
Since I didn't want to get a sign erected, but just wanted to satisfy my curiosity about how it happens, I didn't print out all the applications. But I found what I wanted to know.
These signs are quite different from the little crosses that appear in the right of way near the scene of a fatal accident. These are official highway signs.
The first requirement is that the individual must have been dead for two years. Then there has to be a member of the Missouri Legislature that will sponsor your request. And it must be approved and voted on by the Missouri Legislature.
Another biggie for such signs is that there is a fee of $2,200 for two signs (one to the right of each lane of traffic in both directions). These can be for any individual with enough support to follow through on all these steps. One hundred residents must sign in agreeing to these signs before they can be approved.
In addition to that possibility, there is a Heroes Way Interstate Interchange program. This was started during the 2009 legislative session and allows for an interstate interchange to be designated for a Missouri resident who was in the armed forces and had been killed in action, on or after Sept. 11, 2001, in either Afghanistan or Iraq while serving in the military. These signs will be installed within the interchange on the right side of the highway with one sign for each travel direction. These also cost $2,200.
A third reason for memorial signs is called David's Way Memorial Sign Program. This was also started during the 2009 legislative session. It is the Drunk Driving Victim State Highway Program. These signs are in memory of a person who was killed in Missouri as the result of a motor vehicle accident caused by a person who was shown to have been operating the vehicle at the time of the accident while intoxicated. These signs will be installed as close to the location of the accident as possible, on the right side of the roadway in the direction of travel. These signs only cost $600.00 but they are smaller than the ones previously mentioned.
The lady who was giving me this information said that a community will often have a fundraiser to get the money to pay for the sign. In that way it becomes a community project instead of one family wanting to honor grandpa.
I didn't ask how long the signs would remain up, and what would happen if one got damaged. I guess that will have to be a subject for another column someday.
I think I prefer having a living tree dedicated to me. I know that statement is stopping a movement to put up a sign. But I don't intend to meet that two-year's deadline yet anyway.