Roadside memorials along Highway 2 must be removed for construction

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COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- Commerce City is widening a stretch of Highway 2 and all roadside memorials along the road in the area need to be removed.

The city is widening the highway from two to four lanes between 72nd Avenue and Interstate 76. The city said the project is much needed for traffic improvements.

One of the memorials is a cross for Cody Harrison dated March 12.

“It was a shame that he left at 29 years on this Earth because he had so much more to do and so many more people to touch,” Harrison’s brother Vale Pina said.

Harrison died in a motorcycle accident, and his family said the memorial is their form of peace.

“I’m really in touch with him there and I don’t feel him anywhere else,” Pina said. “If I feel like I need to be touched by him, I go up there and sit there for a couple minutes knowing everything will be OK, everything will work out.”

Harrison’s memorial along with eight others have to be removed for construction.

When nine memorials lie in an eight-mile stretch, that’s proof that safety also needs improvement.

“Some of the safety elements will be a wider highway going from two to four lanes, but also wider shoulders, putting in those extra bike lanes, pedestrian lanes and having that extra lighting on the highway. Those will all be good safety improvements,” Commerce City public information officer Julia Emko said.

Harrison’s family has mixed feelings on removing his memorial site.

“For me, I’m not ready yet,” Pina said. “But I understand it has to come down for safety reasons.”

Harrison’s family has a new hope, that their loss can help save others.

“We’re not the only family that has been affected by the highway and tragedies,” Pina said. “It will always be a spot of reflection for me and I will always go back there.”

Commerce City asks that all memorial sites be removed as soon as possible. Memorial items left will be removed by the city and stored for three months.

The expansion project is expected to be completed in 2018.

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