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Hey, Matt:

I commute to work by bike down Kearny Villa Road, and between the 163 overpass and the 52 overpass are two markers, one on each side of the road. The west side marker has a Caltrans logo and a cross over "Randle James Copeland, Jan. 2, 1964; May 22, 1994." The eastern marker is fairly new, although the little cactus garden around it has been there for years. The east marker reads, "Debbie Peters, Nov. 7, 1963; July 12, 1994. You will always be in our hearts." What do these markers signify? And how does one get permission from Caltrans to put up these memorial markers?

-- TH in RB

Both markers are posted at the sites where Copeland and Peters died. Copeland was a Caltrans employee, though his death occurred when he was off duty. Despite the logo and the professionally printed marker, it seems to have been put up informally, by friends. It's not an official memorial sanctioned by Caltrans. They often honor workers killed on duty by naming bridges after them; one was dedicated recently in the South Bay. Debby Peters was killed by a hit-and-run driver. The cactus garden was planted in 1994 by her friends, who may also have later put up the metal marker.

Sorry, but for safety reasons you can't get permission from Caltrans or the City of San Diego to put a memorial marker at the side of a freeway or road. That's not to say the markers don't appear without permission. (It's likely these two did.) In that case, Caltrans evaluates the safety of the location, and if it's not a high-speed, high-traffic area, they'll leave it until after the funeral, then remove it. The city says they remove them as soon as they learn about them. Luckily, in the case of Copeland and Peters, Caltrans says that section of Kearny Villa Road is in the city's jurisdiction; the city says it's Caltrans's. If we just go away quietly and leave it at that, the memorials are safe from any paper-shufflers demanding they be ripped out.

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