Jul 18, 2014 9:01 PM by Andy Koen
PUEBLO - Members of a Pueblo family who lost loved ones in traffic accidents say they're frustrated with a new prohibition on roadside memorials. City Council passed the ordinance in December and the new policy went into effect in March. It requires memorials set up on city property to be removed within 45 days.
Irene Martinez lost her son Everett and her daughter Bernadette separate traffic accidents about 14 months apart. The family put up crosses near the sites of Everett's accident along the US 50 Bypass off of Interstate 25 as a reminder of their lives.
"You have that loss, there's an emptiness there," Martinez said. "I went specifically that direction so that I could at least say high my children, I love you Berna, I love you Everett."
Her niece Desirae Segura says she was very emotional to see the crosses removed.
"I was angry, I was hurt, I was furious, angry is not even the word, I was furious," Segura said.
The crosses were placed in the right-of-way of a state highway where, technically, they have been always prohibited. Bob Wilson, a spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Transportation, says road crews will generally leave the memorials placed in the right-of-way alone unless they're creating a traffic hazard.
"If we do see one that's obviously creating a safety issue, a traffic safety issue, we will remove it but we won't destroy it."
Martinez explained that her children died without life insurance and she didn't have the money to pay for a funeral plot. For her family, the crosses were akin to visiting a grave site.
"I couldn't bury my children in a cemetery plot, both accidents were really fast and unexpected," she said.
Segura said she only learned of the city's new ordinance after their crosses were removed. She feels the policy is too restrictive and plans to express her views to city council later this month. She has also set up a Facebook page calling for the memorials to be returned.
"There's got to be a better solution, there's got to be somewhere that we can meet in the middle."
The city policy allows families to put their memorials back along the roadside for a 45 day period on anniversaries. On the other hand, C-DOT offers families the ability to purchase a sign for $100 in memory of loved ones that will stay in place for a period of six years.