SALT LAKE CITY — Nine-foot-high signs might replace the white crosses along public highways honoring Utah Highway Patrol troopers who have died over the years.
UHP Sgt. Troy Denney said he asked Rep. Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, to sponsor a bill that would allow the Utah Department of Transportation to post signs honoring troopers who have died in the line of duty.
Denney said the Utah Highway Patrol Association met to discuss what could replace 12-foot-high crosses that memorialize the fallen troopers. Federal courts have said the crosses must be removed. Denney approached Wilson about running a bill that would allow signs, which have no religious symbols, to be put up along the highways.
Wilson and Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, are the sponsors of House Bill 182, which was approved on Friday by the House, 70-0, with five absent. On the House floor to watch the vote and be honored were family members of fallen troopers, as well as UHP officers. The bill now goes to the Senate for its consideration.
The signs would say “It’s the law. Drive Safely. Buckle Up,” with the name of a trooper who died.
Wilson said the signs will remind drivers to be safe and to watch out for troopers. In 2011, 21 troopers were injured in accidents while working along the side of the highways.
Wilson said the total cost to make the signs is about $20,000. If the state does not fund them, there is a provision for private donations to be made.
“This is such an easy fix,” Denney said about the signs. He does not expect any legal opposition.
The crosses have been removed from both public and private property, said UHP Trooper Chad McWilliams, UHPA president.
“They are being refurbished and cleaned up,” McWilliams said. “We will put them on private property as close to the original proximities as possible, and we’re designing a different logo, not the beehive, to go on them.”