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DOT sign program draws slim response
Nobody from Hall has applied for memorial sign
The Georgia Department of Transportation is offering this sign for families and friends as a roadside memorial to persons killed in traffic wrecks. The price is $100.

Since Georgia announced a memorial marker program Feb. 8, 16 signs have gone up statewide - none in Hall County.

The Department of Transportation began the program as a way for family and friends to remember accident victims on state or federal routes, while at the same time removing crosses and other tributes that frequently go up after a tragedy.

At one time, Georgia roads were covered with homemade memorials, from flower-covered crosses to Styrofoam cutouts.

"We've had folks use concrete or terra cotta planters and concrete blocks to make the cross," said Teri Pope, spokeswoman for the DOT's Gainesville office, in February.

"And if another vehicle had a crash, some of these more permanent-style monuments could hurt somebody else."

The state offers aluminum signs, which are 15 inches in diameter and feature the black-lettered message "Drive Safely; In Memory" and the victim's name.

They can be requested by family or friends for a $100 fabrication and installation fee.

Only those who have lost a friend or loved one on federal or state routes can apply. Friends must have approval of immediate family.

DOT maintenance personnel will put up the sign at the edge of the mowing limits and as close as possible to the scene of the accident.

"The marker should remain in place for one year unless it becomes necessary to remove it due to construction or maintenance work," states the DOT website.

Sixteen signs have been installed since March 29, with the nearest one to Hall on Ga. 140 and Crooked Creek Road in Norcross.

"We only have one application pending," David Spear, DOT press secretary, said last week.

As part of the program, the DOT stepped up removal of nonsanctioned memorials, taking down sooner the ones deemed "to be creating an imminent safety hazard" and clearing away others as part of regular right-of-way maintenance.

Also, gatherings, ceremonies or other activities at sign areas aren't allowed.

"We're still taking a pretty measured approach in removing the ad hoc signs that people put up," Spear said.

If signs "don't present any particular hazard or distraction, we're trying to be understanding," he added. "We know it is hard enough to lose someone. We're not trying to add more pain or heartache to that grieving process."

Spear said some 600 people have died this year on Georgia roads.