State officials are cracking down on some roadside memorials to people killed in accidents because the tributes are so large that they’ve become distracting to drivers.
Until recently, highway officials have only loosely enforced a law against unauthorized memorials on state-maintained shoulders and medians.
“It’s going to come to this now, a very formal policy,” said David Buck, spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration. “Because we wanted to give folks an inch, and they’ve taken well more than a mile.”
The change was prompted by a dispute between the family of Christopher Stewart, who was killed in a motorcycle accident on Oct. 28, and Christopher Oros, who tore down a wooden cross and illuminated Star of David that the family had put up along Interstate 97.
Oros said he took down the memorial only after a call to the state failed to prompt action.
“I empathize with the grief that these people have gone through,” Oros said. “I hope they’ll find comfort in memorializing the family member in a way that does not create another hazardous situation on the highway.”
The Stewart family’s memorial is among the first scheduled for removal, but Buck said most existing highway memorials will not be disturbed.
Brenda Stewart, said losing her son’s memorial would be “like losing our son all over again.”