Drivers headed north on state Highway 133 may have noticed a new sign along the road just south of the Blair water tower.
The blue and white sign urges motorists to drive safely. Below it is a smaller sign that reads “In memory of Cody Stump.”
Stump, 19, was killed in a head-on collision that also killed Rosemarie Akiens, 45, on Aug. 29, 2012. Both were from Omaha. The accident occurred prior to the widening of the highway.
The sign is part of new roadside memorial guidelines, implemented by the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT), aimed at allowing an immediate family member to memorialize a death which occurred as the result of a vehicular crash on the state highway system.
Last November, NDOT announced the new guidance for roadside memorials. Since that time, NDOT teammates have been actively working with family members on implementation across the state to answer questions about existing memorials and the new memorial signs, according to a press release from the NDOT.
“Through the implementation of the new signs, NDOT remains committed to listening to family members to help improve the established guidelines while continuing to balance the needs of the grieving family and the safety of the roadway,” NDOT spokesperson Jeni Campana said.
In the last eight months, a total of 20 new signs have been installed across the state. The sign for Stump is the first in Washington County.
Immediate family members can apply for an NDOT produced sign to be erected in the state right of way as a memorial at the location of the crash for two years. NDOT tries to place the sign as closed to the requested location as possible. For safety reasons, the signs cannot be placed on the interstate system.
Each sign includes a safety message chosen by the family from five available options: “Please Drive Safely;” “Seat Belts Save Lives;” “Don't Drink and Drive;” “Don't Text and Drive;” and “Don't Drive Impaired.”
Applications can be completed electronically or printed and filed with the NDOT, Communications and Public Policy Division. The application fee is $50 to help offset the cost of the customized sign.