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Proposed Bill Aims to Establish Roadside Memorial Display Guidelines

State Rep. Paul McMurtry (D-Dedham) is behind the bill that will go to a hearing on Wednesday.

A roadside memorial. Note: This is a Patch file photo and is not specific to Dedham.
A roadside memorial. Note: This is a Patch file photo and is not specific to Dedham.

Massachusetts State Rep. Paul McMurtry (D-Dedham) is looking to establish guidelines for grieving families who wish to erect roadside memorials with a newly-proposed bill due to go to a public hearing on Wednesday. 

Bill H.3407 aims to raise public awareness of driving fatalities and homicides on public roadways and offer families a way to remember the victims. The Joint Committee on Transportation will hear the bill beginning at 10 a.m. Wednesday in Hearing Room A-2 at the Massachusetts State House along with 50 other bills scheduled to be heard, according to McMurtry's office. 

"The bill's intention and origin came from just giving some grief-stricken families an opportunity for closure," McMurtry told Patch on Tuesday. "The need and desire for us in our culture to leave a memorial at the location where the last breath was taken, I understand that. I'm very sensitive to that."

If approved, the bill would allow families to apply for memorial markers to be placed at crash sites for one year. The markers would comprise a white-on-blue panel bearing the words "In Memory of (Victim's Name)" followed by the date of the incident being memorialized. 

"They can move on from that point of tragedy to a more appropriate place of mourning, whether that's a cemetery or church," McMurtry said. "And they can move away from that very dangerous intersection. At the same time, it allows for public works departments, both local and state, a way of dealing with a sensitive issue."

McMurtry said the bill would establish guidelines that don't currently exist for the sensitive issue, and would provide families and local and state official a means of handling the installation and removal of memorials in an appropriate time frame. 

"The intention of this is a temporary public monument to bring some level of guidelines, or some level of government involvement to a very sensitive and delicate matter to families and friends who are building these memorials and displays of flowers and teddy bears and tee shirts," he said. "This temporary memorial would justify that, and offer the public a somber reminder of some of the tragedies that occur from driving and/or homicides." 

He added, "We've seen some of these very public displays transition from a bouquet of flowers or a moment or memory of the deceased to permanent shrubs and more continuous permanent memorials, which I'm not questioning or disagreeing with, but the original intention was out of compassion in helping government and loved ones establish a mutually-acceptable resolution."

To read Bill H.3407, click here. 

joseph mcgruff March 15, 2014 at 08:52 PM
And there you haveit folks, BH is the winner! Don't you dare make a memorial for any loved ones or he will dirve every last mile on his comnmute to the Vatican City (assuming his tires don't get blown out on the way) and give you the tisk tisk fingers. Even better idea, lets hire Matt Amorello to oversee this genius project, I mean what can go wrong right? Engenireed metal and all... the Delvalle family will be thrilled and 1st in line to pay the $100 application fee!
BH March 15, 2014 at 09:21 PM
What's wrong with a plaque with words from the family on it, secured to the side of the road? Seems better to me than dead flowers, rain and snow soaked stuffed animals and tattered pictures and cards.
joseph mcgruff March 15, 2014 at 09:44 PM
There are 100 times more guerilla billboards soaking up that same rain and snow. Again, if road safety is the point, shouldn't we be going after the biggest offenders? Not those who mean ZERO harm and aren't trying to make a quick buck.
BH March 15, 2014 at 09:55 PM
I think this is more about highways personally, that is where more vehicle deaths occur, thus more of these memorials. I don't see any yard sale or makeshift billboards on the highway. And if we are talking about secondary and side road memorials then private property comes into play in some cases.
joseph mcgruff March 15, 2014 at 10:11 PM
The highway deaths are not occurring because people are looking off at home made memorials, . Or are you saying the memorials are considered an eyesore or eventual debris/litter on the roads? If that is the case, how sad someone would want to target mourning families like that, McMurtry not you BH. Furthermore, if the trash factior is the ultimate point, the yard salers would take the cake on that you have to agree, regardless of what road they are on, right?

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