Roadside Memorials Near Birmingham Are Coming Down

Alabama DOT Removes Roadside Memorials Near Birmingham
Alabama DOT Removes Roadside Memorials Near Birmingham

Montgomery, Al. (WSFA) -- The wooden cross off Interstate 65 South just north of Montgomery will forever be a reminder of what happened to John Giles.

"In 9 days it'll be 9 years," Giles said.

9 years ago Giles and his wife learned the hard truth that their 19-year old son Micah Giles died in a car wreck.

"It's the last few seconds of a life of that loved one," Giles said.

Today the cross is still standing, put up by the Giles family not long after Micah died, but WSFA 12 News has learned the Alabama Department of Transportation could decide to take it down. Right now the focus is on the Birmingham area. The 5 counties are Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair, Blount and Walker. DOT officials say the make-shift memorials have become a 'safety issue.'

For instance, a group of young people almost got hit, according to DOT, when they tried to put up a memorial in memory of the 4 people killed on 459 a few weeks ago. DOT says it's trying to be sensitive yet keep roadways safe.

"It's been a gift all these years," Giles said.

John Giles says he will not fight the state if it decides to remove the cross on Interstate 65. With the exception of the Birmingham area, DOT says it'll leave the rest of the state in the hands of division engineers to determine whether roadside memorials are safe.

"It's not property. My son was killed on the state's property, but it's their property," Giles said.

Across the country 22 states have some type of law that regulates roadside memorials. Alabama does not and neither does the Federal Government.

Montana and California allow memorials but only if alcohol was involved. Wisconsin and New Jersey limit how long the memorials can remain at the site.