- Associated Press - Thursday, May 5, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - The Arizona Department of Transportation will reconsider its policy on the removal of roadside memorials in light of recent protests from Pinal County residents over their commemorative displays being taken away.

Memorials are considered safety hazards and are routinely removed by ADOT, but on Wednesday ADOT Director John Halikowski said the agency will consider changes to the current policy, The Arizona Republic reported (https://bit.ly/1UC9JtS ).

“Our job is to serve the public and to listen to the public,” Halikowski said. “In response to these very genuine concerns, we are re-evaluating our policy and procedures with a goal of providing an opportunity for those who wish to express their grief and preserving memorials that do not present a safety hazard.”

Crews have worked over the past few weeks to remove all memorial sites that line U.S. 60 and State Route 177 between Phoenix and northwest of Tucson, despite some memorials being there for more than a decade.

Carla Ramirez saw the memorial of for her mother taken down last week. The large white cross with flowers and a statue of an angel had marked the spot where Carmen Rios was killed by a drunk driver in 2000.

“That will be great if it could go back up,” Ramirez said. “We drove past it every day, and it was very important for us. I would love it if they did it so we can remember my mother with it.”

Ramirez’s uncle, Pinal County Supervisor Pete Rios, had encouraged residents to contact officials this week and tell them how removing the memorial’s affected them. Rios had written a letter to Gov. Doug Ducey and penned an opinion piece that ran in several publications.

“At the end of the day, a lot of those memorial sites are not a hazard to the motoring public,” Rios said. “A lot of these are placed 20 to 30 feet away from the roadside and hold no threat to anyone.”


Information from: The Arizona Republic, https://www.azcentral.com

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