ACHD updates roadside memorial policy, prevents memorials for those responsible for some crashes

Posted at 5:17 PM, Jun 22, 2021

The Ada County Highway District (ACHD) announced Tuesday it updated its Roadside Memorial Policy. The updated policy adds language preventing the installment of memorials for people deemed responsible for a crash due to driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or other criminal activity.

The original policy was put into place in August 2015 and was meant to provide a way for families to memorialize their loved ones lost in crashes on ACHD roads. ACHD says it has installed eight memorials in Ada County in the past six years.

The first seven of those are still standing, but the eighth showed areas of the policy that didn't consider all circumstances leading to a crash, according to a release.

Last December, ACHD says it received an application from a family requesting a Roadside Memorial at Five Mile and McMillan. A crash happened there and two people died and two others were injured. The application was processed and a sign was installed as previous applications had been.

Members of the public started messaging ACHD about the cause of the crash and it was determined the person named on the sign was driving under the influence. ACHD says it was not aware of this and upon hearing concerns from the community, removed the sign.

ACHD says it was determined that nothing in the 2015 policy justified the removal and the sign was put back. In order to remove the sign and prevent similar situations in the future, the policy would need to be changed, according to the release.

The policy was examined to identify gaps allowing for unforeseen incidences. Commissioner Mary May also did research on similar policies throughout the country.

"While I was not in favor of having a Roadside Memorial Policy, it was clear that a majority of my colleagues were," said May. "Therefore, if the policy was going to continue, my goal was to ensure that it was modified in a way that would not cause any additional pain through its implementation."

The new policy was adopted with a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner Dave McKinney voting no.

"I don't think ACHD should be in the business of putting up memorials, so even though I think this policy is well intended, I'm inclined against having this policy. I would prefer to have really no policy at all," McKinney said. "It's not because I don't have sympathy for those who have lost loved ones in accidents and so on, simply, I think we should not be in businesses of doing roadside memorials."

You can read the full updated policy below: