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Section 16: Memorial Marker and Named Marker Highways and Structures

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Introduction

A city, county, or the Texas Legislature may assign a memorial or other identifying designation to part of the state highway system (including a highway, bridge, or other structure). In referring to highways and structures so designated, TxDOT uses the modifiers “memorial marker” and “named marker.”

Highways. Normally identifying signs or special markers for memorial marker and named marker highways are not placed so as to be read from the highway main lanes, except in special cases specified by the Texas Legislature. They are typically placed on either end of the highway and at 75-mile intervals. They are usually placed in rest or picnic areas or turnouts. They are usually small and designed to be read by people on foot. The names never appear on intersecting cross streets or highways (this is covered in Street-Named Highways). For more information on signing standards, see Policy Guidance for Signing, Sign Placement Standards, and Sign Design Standards, later in this section. For exceptions see Exceptions to Signing Standards, later in this section.

Bridges and Other Structures. Memorial marker and named marker bridges and other structures are usually single bridges, interchanges, or even pedestrian bridges that have been given a memorialization or name by a city, county, or the Legislature. In most cases, the identifying instrument is a small marker or sign placed off the main lanes of the associated highway, typically in a parking or pedestrian area for reading by people on foot. For more information on signing standards, see Policy Guidance for Signing, Sign Placement Standards, and Sign Design Standards, later in this section. For exceptions see Exceptions to Signing Standards, later in this section.

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Legal Basis for Naming and Signing

Texas Transportation Code, Chapter 225, Subchapter A, grants local governments the authority to confer memorial or other names on state highways and portions of the state highway system and establishes how this is coordinated with TxDOT. TxDOT is specifically prohibited from naming or otherwise designating a highway, street, or bridge with any name or symbol other than the “regular highway number.” Subchapter B covers specific memorial marker and named marker highways established by the Legislature.

Title 43, Texas Administrative Code, Section 25.9, provides the rules for implementing Chapter 225 of the Texas Transportation Code.

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Records Management

Memorial marker and named marker highways, bridges, interchanges, and other structures and historic routes are recorded and tracked by the Traffic Operations Division (TRF).

Overlaps. TRF strives to prevent overlaps of memorial marker and named marker routes. Overlapping is defined as two names covering the same highway route or corridor. Memorial marker and named marker bridges, structures, or interchanges on a memorial marker or named marker route or corridor do not constitute an overlap.

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Designation Process Varies

The process for designating and signing memorial marker and named marker highways and structures varies depending on whether the action is accomplished through local action (by a county or city) or through Legislative action. Descriptions of both processes follow under separate subheadings.

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Designation through Local Action

The following table describes the process by which a county, city, or public group designates a memorial marker or named marker highway, bridge, or other structure on the state highway system.

NOTE: The “requestor” mentioned in this process, which may be any interested party, must work through a city or county as the official sponsor.

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Step

Responsible Party

Action

1

Requestor

Submits initial general request to the appropriate TxDOT district office. This general request is simply the basic information concerning the highway, bridge, or other structure and the proposed name.

2

District office

Checks with TRF to verify that the highway or structure does not already have a name.

If the facility is not already named and the requestor is still interested, then the district advises the requestor to work through the county or city. The district should provide the requestor with general information concerning the process, including the requirements and standards contained in this section.

3

City or county

Passes the necessary resolution or ordinance and furnishes it to the district along with the details of the marker, plaque, or sign (size, proposed wording, color, and any other pertinent information).

4

District office

Investigates to see if satisfactory space is available for the markers, plaques, or signs to be located safely and without interference with maintenance activities. For further details on signing standards and exceptions, see Policy Guidance for Signing, Sign Placement Standards, and Sign Design Standards, later in this section.

5

District office

Forwards the information to TRF for final approval of the size, color, and wording.

6

TRF

Reviews the request, and if the request is acceptable, records the name and limits (if a highway is involved) and prepares an approval memo for the executive director’s signature. See Approval of Names, later in this section.

7

TxDOT executive director

Signs the approval memo, which is then forwarded to the district office.

8

District office

Negotiates an advanced funding and general terms agreement with the sponsor. (The sponsor gets one original and the district retains one original.) See “Financing and Agreement” following this table.

9

District office

Installs the markers, plaques, or signs after the advanced funding arrives and as time and conditions permit.


Financing and Agreement. The requestor must pay for the sign, marker, or plaque and its installation through the sponsor. The sponsor (county or city) must sign an advance funding and general terms agreement with the state. The relevant agreement — “Named Marker or Memorial Marker Highway Sign Agreement” — can be accessed through the TxDOT intranet (accessible only within the TxDOT network) at <http://crossroads/org/cso/standard_contract_forms.htm#Traffic> under “Traffic.”

Replacement of Signs and Maintenance of Grounds. If the marker, plaque, or sign is damaged or needs replacing, the sponsor must provide a new or refurbished marker, plaque, or sign upon notification by TxDOT. Failure to do so within a reasonable time (usually 6 months) will result in the removal of the marker, plaque, or sign in accordance with the terms of the agreement. The agreement can be revised if the length of time is not reasonable due to the frequency of the sponsor’s official meeting schedules. TxDOT maintains the grounds where the marker, plaque, or sign is displayed.

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Designation through Legislative Action

The Texas Legislature may designate a memorial marker or named marker highway, bridge, or other structure on the state highway system.

After legislation is passed, TRF notifies the district or districts involved and develops a legislative implementation plan. The district or districts work with TRF to erect the signs.

Financing. Unless the enabling legislation provides for a grant or donation through a private entity to assist in financing the construction and maintenance of the sign or signs, TxDOT bears all expenses associated with the signing.

If a grant or donation will be provided, then the process follows the “Instructions for Acceptance of Donations” outlined in Chapter 10 of the Contract Management Manual. After the private entity provides the funding, TxDOT lets a contract or uses state forces to install the markers (signs). The district should not accept any checks until the Commission approves the donation and the Donation Agreement (if required) is executed.

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Approval of Names

TxDOT has the authority to review the text and approve or disapprove the marker, plaque, or sign message for memorial and name designations proposed by cities and counties.

Use of Commercial Names. If the text is determined to border on commercial advertising (such as “Ford Motor Company Freeway”) it would be turned down because the Texas Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (TMUTCD) forbids commercial advertising. However, if the designation were “Henry Ford Freeway,” for example, then TxDOT would approve it. The name of a person, whether dead or alive, is acceptable. Note that the policy against commercial names for memorial marker and named marker highways is more restrictive than that applied to signing for traffic generators (see Commercial Names in Section 9 of this chapter).

Name Must be Inoffensive. All designations must be reasonably inoffensive to the public as determined by TxDOT.

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Policy Guidance for Signing

The TMUTCD contains the following guidance (Section 2E.08):

Freeways and expressways should not be signed as memorial highways, except in special cases specified by the Texas Legislature. If a route, bridge, or highway component is officially designated as a memorial, and if notification of the memorial is to be made on the highway right of way, such notification should consist of installing a memorial plaque in a rest area, scenic overlook, recreational area, or other appropriate location where parking is provided with the signing inconspicuously located relative to vehicle operations along the highway, unless otherwise provided for by state statute.

As an option, the TMUTCD suggests the following:

If the installation of a memorial plaque off the main roadway is not practical, a memorial sign may be installed on the mainline.

The TMUTCD lists the following standards where memorial signs are installed on the mainline:

  • Memorial names must not appear on directional guide signs.
  • Memorial signs must not interfere with the placement of any other necessary highway signing.
  • Memorial signs must not compromise the safety or efficiency of traffic flow.

The TMUTCD further requires that memorial signing be limited to one sign at each end of the designated limits, and at such intermediate sites that markers are approximately 75 miles apart.

The TMUTCD offers similar guidance for conventional roads and streets in Section 2D.48.

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Sign Placement Standards

Frequency of Markers for Highways. For memorial marker and named marker highways, Texas statutes allow for intermittent markers every 75 miles and one marker on each end of the designated highway.

Examples:

  • Example 1: A designated highway is 140 miles long, so it gets one marker at each end and one in each direction at the 75 mile point from each end approximately.
  • Example 2: A designated highway is 100 miles long, so it is eligible for a marker on each end and the 50 mile points for each direction. This highway technically would have the intermittent markers at 75 miles, but it makes more sense in this case to place the markers midway as long as the entire length is more than 75 miles. However, the literal interpretation can also be applied if necessary and if the sites are available.

The main-lane signs, when used, should be located at a safe and non-obtrusive site just after the beginning of the designated highway, typically within ¼ to ¾ mile if practical. Markers in rest areas, scenic areas, turn-outs, etc. may by located wherever practical. Sometimes only one marker will be erected, depending on the sponsor’s request. Signs should not be posted on the main lanes, unless it is impractical to do otherwise. The exception is for routes designated by the Legislature. In this case a precedent has been set to install signs on the main lanes always and to follow other specific instructions contained in the statute.

If More Than One Numbered Highway Is Involved. Occasionally a memorial marker or named marker highway follows the path of more than one numbered highway. In such cases, each differently numbered segment of the named highway will receive a marker at each end and, if a segment is more than 75 miles in length, intermittent markers every 75 miles.

For Bridges and Other Structures. For memorial marker and named marker bridges and other structures the marker should be installed out of sight of the main lanes, if practical. Generally only one plaque or marker is furnished by local authorities for installation in a viewing area. Sometimes one sign on each approach is required if the legislature is involved, or if there are no practical viewing areas, then a sign is required on the main lanes.

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Sign Design Standards

For Non-Highway Viewing. Memorial marker and named marker highway and structure signs not facing the main lanes (those mounted in rest areas, picnic areas, turnouts, parking areas, etc.) should be simple in design and relatively small. If a sign is used, it should have a green background with white legend. If a plaque or marker is used, it should have a black or green background with a white, aluminum, or silver legend. Some variation may be allowed as long as the design is in good taste. None of these signs or markers (plaques) located off the main lanes need to be reflective. The legend size must be for pedestrian reading, not for high speed traffic viewing, generally one-inch letters or smaller. They should be limited in size to what will fit on one pipe support. Signs with breakaway features should be used if subject to impact by vehicles traveling more than 10 mph. Plaques and markers need to be protected or placed well out of the clear zone, since these are not breakaway tested.

For Highway Viewing. Memorial marker and named marker highway and structure signs mounted for viewing from highway lanes fall under the category of general information signs. They must be reflective with green background and white legend. The lettering standard, varies according to the highway type, as follows:

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(Memorial Marker and Named Marker Highways and Structures)

Highway Type

Typical Lettering Standard

Freeways (including Expressways)

Clearview font with uppercase sized at 13.3 in. (Clearview font automatically sizes the lowercase at 10 in.)

NOTE: This is essentially the same size as the place name for supplemental freeway signs in the current TMUTCD; however, the TMUTCD does not mention expressways or the lowercase sizes.

Conventional Highways

Clearview font with uppercase of 8 in., lowercase 6 in.



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Exceptions to Signing Standards

Signs for Designated Highways. For memorial marker and named marker highways, exceptions to the above sign placement standards are made in accordance with legislative requirements or where there are no other suitable alternatives. Occasionally legislation has called for signs on the main lanes and at specific spacings. In these cases the highway number and memorial or name designation are both on the same sign and on the main lanes.

Signs for Bridges and Other Structures. For memorial marker and named marker bridges and other structures, exceptions to the above sign placement standards are made in accordance with legislative requirements or where there are no other suitable alternatives. For example, in special cases involving a legislative request or lack of a practical viewing area, a general information sign carrying the name of the structure is installed on the main lanes.

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