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California lawmaker wants to put brakes on naming of freeways, bridges

February 21, 2012 | 10:05 am


Drive around California and you might find yourself on the Glenn Anderson Freeway or the Sonny Bono Freeway, named after two deceased congressmen, or the Quentin Kopp Freeway, which is named after a retired state senator who is still alive.

There are hundreds of signs identifying freeways, bridges and tunnels named after politicians, civil servants, war heroes, fallen officers and others, and now one state lawmaker is trying to put the brakes on the growing practice.

Assemblyman Chris Norby (R-Fullerton) has introduced a bill that would strip the Legislature of the power to name roads and bridges, giving it instead to the California Transportation Commission, which he hopes will show more moderation.

Currently, up to 30% of the work done by Norby and his colleagues on the Assembly Transportation Committee involves consideration of new naming proposals, and the increase is leading to freeways cluttered with unnecessary signs, he said.

"I thought a lot of these were excessive," Norby said. "Many of these bills are politically motivated. You get freeways being named after politicians, some of them still alive, who didn’t put a nickle into them."

It costs taxpayers about $15,000 for state officials to process each resolution naming a highway, bridge or tunnel after a public figure, and Norby said the state's current budget problems require that the practice be scaled back.

"It will help with the proliferation of signage along our freeways," he said of AB 1645.


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Photo: Assemblyman Chris Norby (R-Fullerton) wants to change the way freeways and bridges are named after public figures. Credit: Marc Martin / Los Angeles Times