The memorials often consist of a cross, flowers and the name of the person who was killed at the site.
But the memorials are illegal in Ohio if they are erected on state property beside a roadway, Ohio Department of Transportation District 9 Public Information Officer Kathleen Fuller said.
In many cases, a ditch or fence beside a roadway signifies the state property line where the memorials cannot be erected.
“If they are a hindrance, we will remove them,” she said. “For safety issues, we don't encourage them. They can cause problems when people drive by slowly or pull their cars over to look at them.”
But she said ODOT does not go out looking for memorials to remove. Fuller said there are not a lot of roadside memorials in the district.
In some states, like Georgia, roadside memorials are legal.
Georgia law allows for people to buy a sign in honor of someone who was killed by a drunk driver. The memorial sign is about the same size as a speed-limit sign.
But while not legal in Ohio, Fuller said removing them is not a top priority if they don't cause safety concerns.
“Safety is our No. 1 concern,” she said. “We want good roads, but we need to have safe roads, too.”
Kentucky officials take the same stance as their Ohio counterparts. A Kentucky State Police spokeswoman said the KSP does not remove roadside memorials unless they cause a traffic hazard.
But Fuller said when ODOT personnel must remove a memorial, they use as much consideration as possible.
“It's an emotional issue and we try to be careful,” she said.
Fuller said she could only think of one family that objected when they were told not to put up a memorial on state property.
Political signs are another issue, however.
“If we see an inordinate amount of campaign signs near a roadway, we will remove them,” Fuller said.
ODOT removes them for two reasons. One, they can obstruct traffic. Two, the state cannot support one candidate over another.
“A lot of times, the candidates just don't know,” Fuller said. “Some are running for office for the first time or they have people working for them who erect the signs. But once we explain why they can't put up a sign on the right-of-way, they understand.”
Fuller said political signs near roadways are a major issue in Scioto, Lawrence and Highland counties.
Those wanting to place signs near Scioto County roads can call ODOT at (740) 259-2071 to find out what is allowable.
JEFF BARRON can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 236.