Safety signs may replace Utah memorial crosses

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After a long court battle forced removal of white, roadside crosses as memorials to fallen Utah Highway Patrol troopers, a bill is proposing to remember them instead with safety warning signs — accompanied with a placard saying it is in memory of an officer.

Rep. Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, said he introduced HB182 this week to allow placing "a sign either in the area where the trooper lost his life or in the community where the trooper is from."

He added that the signs will "have some safety message, like move over or slow down." And it will have a banner across the bottom that has a trooper's name and a designation that it is in his or her memory.

He said the Utah Department of Transportation and the Highway Patrol would work together to determine appropriate locations for the signs.

His bill allows collection of private donations to pay for them. A fiscal note attached to bill estimates the cost of the signs to be $20,000.

"The court battle has been long and tiresome," Wilson said about atheists suing the state contending the memorial crosses violated the separation of church and state, eventually forcing removal of the crosses.

He said a constituent who is a trooper suggested the idea of an alternative memorial. "He said, Brad, 'Wouldn't it be nice if the state could do something to recognize the sacrifice of these troopers.' " Wilson said the bill is the alternative worked out by him, UDOT and the Highway Patrol.