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Insight Denton: Am I allowed to place a roadside memorial in the right of way?

Yes. Since roadside memorials can be a visceral reminder to drive safely,  the Texas Department of Transportation wrote a few rules to allow them and still keep the traveling public safe. 

The department discourages overly ornate signs. TxDOT encourages memorials be placed near a utility pole or other area of the right of way that is not mowed, but they should not be affixed to any signs or signals. Similarly, markers may not be placed on medians or between the main lanes and frontage road on the freeway. TxDOT also limits the size of the markers: they must be less than 30 inches high and 18 inches wide. They should be made of wood and may contain a small plaque. Photos and concrete footings are not allowed, as both can present new hazards to passing motorists. 

The department's rules apply only to the state highway system. To memorialize a death on a city street, know that the city has rules for temporary signs limiting their size, placement and duration. However, those rules are focused on other types of signs, such as real estate and event signs. The city has no rules specifically for roadside memorials in its code of ordinances. 

In addition to white crosses, a new kind of memorial has emerged in the last decade: ghost bikes. Typically, an older bicycle is painted white and installed at the location where a cyclist died, serving as reminder to motorists to share the road. 

Source: Use of Right of Way by Others Manual: Memorial Markers Within the Right of Way, Texas Department of Transportation; and Denton Code of Ordinances, Subpart B, Sect. 33-16, Temporary Signs. 

What do you want to know? Email your question for Insight Denton to pheinkel-wolfe@dentonrc.com.

FEATURED PHOTO: A roadside memorial in far southern Denton honors the memories of the four people who died after head-on collision there on April 9, 2016: Ashley Morgan, 26, Lorelei Cotter, 4, Emma Lourdes Shaffer, 41, and Emma "Tita" Shaffer, 12, near the intersection of Brush Creek Road and Fort Worth Drive.
DRC file photo