Sound Off: State Orders Roadside Memorial Removed

The Washington State Department of Transportation says a memorial to a hit and run victim must come down. The memorial to Robb Long is located underneath Interstate 90 on Sprague in the Spokane Valley. More than two years have passed since Long was killed, but the state says the memorial is illegally on the state’s right of way. It has offered to replace the memorial with a sign, but the victim’s family must pay for it. What do you think? Should there be a time limit on how long memorials can stay alongside roads? Should the family have to pay $500 for a smaller replacement? Email us:

I may understand this mothers grief, and that memorial is far enough off the road, but 2 yrs is long enough time, and its time to move on. I’m sorry about her son being hit an died, life must go on. -Byron(Spokane)

Roadside distractions are exactly that — the HOPE somebody ELSE CRASHES. -Clayton

I think it’s unreal that the D.O.T. has the audacity to force the removal of the memorial. Obviously they have never lost someone like this. My own son was murdered by a hit and run( which 3 years later is STILL unsolved and probably won’t be because of the lack of concern over my son’s importance by our finest) but that’s another sound off issue. These memorials are important to those of us who’ve lost someone.In fact, where we we have one for my son, the kind landowner ok’d it and has given permission as well as offered to help putting up a more permanent one. The new north south freeway is going up nearby and the workers who’ve been digging and laying cable, as well as the snowplow drivers have all respectfully not destroyed, moved or harrassed us a bout it.A public thank-you to them. Can one put a “time limit” on the pain we will feel for the rest of our lives over the senseless death of our loved one? The sign is not causing any accidents. If anything, it acts as a safety precaution. Those that don’t know the person or family, might feel compassion for a stranger( something this world needs more of) or remember to drive more careful. To offer the family a token sign for $500 is an insult! It’s outragious to even suggest they remove it. How horribly insensitive, cruel and another example of our rotten spokane government! shame on you people! Makes me even more ashamed to live here! -EFB

As hard as it is to let go of loved ones, I’m sure experts will agree that a time frame for the mourning process is real. I have experienced mourners stopping their cars in th street and creating more hazards for others while the place fresh flowers or markers at the site. As hard as it seems please think of others safety. -Nick

I can not believe that they are even thinking about doing this. For one we are living in the Untied States and who is this sign hurting. For two if they are going to charge someone why don’t they charge the person who killed this man I am thinking he didn’t just die there. I have seen that sign and it is NO different that that BIG sign that tells you how many people in that intersection have died on 2nd AVE right off the free way going west. SO give me a break. I would not allow this to happen if this was any family member of mine. I am behind this family and I sure hope that this community comes together to help fight this. -Renee (Spokane Valley)

Yes because sooner or later somebody will get in wreck there an then try to sue the state , cause it distracted them or something like that ….unfortunately. -John

I can tell that most of the viewers who e-mailed in have never lost a child, especially to a drunk driver. Grief isn’t a condition that clears up! I think the memorials are a reminder to people that someone was killed in this place and may make at least one person think and maybe save one life. Doesn’t the highway department have better things to do? -Jan

No his memorial is all he has to show the world. If you just make the family pay for a new smaller sign its still going to stay there but ask your self how you would feel if you were killed or lost someone to a hit and run. would you want that memorial taken down? I know if they took my brothers down i would be very upset. my brother would not have what he deserves. Maybe it should be thought about. What if his family couldn’t afford a sign to be put there? What if that was his only head stone? he deserves as much respect in life and in death. this is his memory it shouldn’t be taken away from the family or friends. I know that when i drive by my brother’s sign i am so grateful that it is still there, i mean yeah its a hard thing to go by but think about how hard it would be for the family to go by that spot knowing what happened and not be able to see that persons last memory, whats left from the horrible, but inevitable fate of that person. I feel that memorials are are a reminder that lives can change or even be gone in a flash. So i say leave it. -Amber

A Roadside memorial always reminds me to drive more carefully. I’m sure it does the same for many other people. It seems to me it does more good than harm. -Liz

I think that a memorial to someone should be more than just a picture and a bunch of flowers put up somewhere where most people have no idea what it is all about and don’t have the time to stop and look. It seems to be a pretty busy area and gawking at the memorial could cause another accident. There are many, many other worthwhile ways to remember someone. Besides that’s what the beautiful cemeteries are for. You can put up stones, pictures, flowers, etc. -Loy

I feel that they should keep it up. How would they feel if it was there child. Please find a way to come to an agreement. -Neeta

Yes, let the sign stay where it is. After 2 years the precedent has been set to allow the sign. It is very tastefully done and maintained beautifully. My son was also critically injured in a motorcycle accident where the other driver didn’t see him. Any time you can encourage drivers to be cautious of motorcycles is well worth it and a picture says a 1,000 words. -Bonnie

The sign should absolutely not have a time limit and it seems insulting they’re even offering her a small sign to buy! The memorial isn’t harming anyone so why does it matter that it’s there? -Lisa(Spokane)

I feel that as long as it’s not a road hazard. LEAVE IT ALONE!!!! -Tammy(Springdale)

I personally don’t think the sign should be taken down and don’t think there should be a time limit either. I enjoy seeing it and it makes me think of the poorman that lost his life from someones stupidness. If they make her take it down then other memorials around Spokane streets need to come down also its just not fair. -Holly

I feel sorry for families and friends who have lost loved ones, but roadside memorials are inappropriate. I wouldn’t want to cause a distraction that could lead to another fatal accident. How about we chip in to pay for a commemorative plaque? I will. -Rick(Spokane)

Do I think any memorial should be removed (as long as it’s not impeding traffic)? NO! Do I think that (as shown by the pic provided) that this memorial impedes right of way? NO! I bet if this memorial were for a BLACK victim, the police wouldn’t be causing this crap! -Debra

Roadside memorials are a way for families to grieve a lost loved a one, however I believe that should be taken down after a reasonable time, perhaps one or two months. I’ve seen memorials that have been up for so long that they deteriorate. I hope that the grieving family would rather remember where the lost loved one lived and thrived, rather than drive by and have to remember where they died. -Mary Ann

The memorials remind me of those who have died from accidents and I probably drive more carefully after seeing them. However the state needs access to rights of way in order to do maintenance. Perhaps the compromise is to publish guidelines for establishing memorials rather than impose a strict time limit. If some knew about the small sign option they might even opt for that. -Dave (Pullman)

Depending on where the memorial is located, there should not be a time limit. The “home-made” memorials should not be on a freeway or close to the roadside where cars are going 60+ mph. If the memorials are set up where they are not a direct danger to the driving public, then leave them alone. This one in your picture looks like it is not on the freeway itself but on the off-ramp going under and overpass. It does not appear to be a danger so I say leave it alone. -Roxanne

Why? If the family needs to remember this victim, don’t hinder them. -MJ

It seems the state has made a reasonable offer. But the catch will probably be……. ‘how much the state is charging for the memorial sign’? Why no mention of the obvious? -Gary

I believe allowing a 1 yr period for roadside memorials would be a perfectly reasonable compromise. It would allow for a grieving outlet during the time period immediately following the accident and also act as a point of “closure”. Closure is a healthy part of the grievance process that sometimes gets overlooked. -Dave(Spokane County)

There must be a good, permanent way to give recognition to accidents and their victims without tacking something up on freeway underpasses or other roadside locations; could make a very good dialog between the community and it’s leaders to come up with an alternative. -Ann (Spokane)

My mother was killed on Market St. in an horrendous car accident when I was 8 years old. The last thing that I would have wanted then or now would be to have a constant visual reminder on a road that I could travel every day. -Lynda

I know this seems heartless, but the right-of-way on the roads is there for a reason. The transportation department left the memorial alone for 2 years, where most signs would have been pulled and tossed within a couple weeks. The cometary is the proper place for a memorial, not the side of the road. Roadside memorials are ok for a week or two, but beyond that they are just another roadside distraction, potentially causing the loss of someone else’s life. Let your road workers do their jobs, and thank them for allowing it up that long. -Heather