Under the Dome

Proposed NC legislation would stop naming highways after politicians

Durwood Stephenson, center, and Gov. Bev Perdue, third from left, unveil the new “M. Durwood Stephenson Highway” sign in Smithfield in 2011 as members of the Stephenson family look on. Stephenson is a former board member of the N.C. Department of Transportation.
Durwood Stephenson, center, and Gov. Bev Perdue, third from left, unveil the new “M. Durwood Stephenson Highway” sign in Smithfield in 2011 as members of the Stephenson family look on. Stephenson is a former board member of the N.C. Department of Transportation.

A bipartisan group of N.C. House members wants the state to stop naming highways and bridges after politicians.

A bill filed Wednesday would limit the honor – which typically comes with a large green sign along a major road – to military personnel and emergency responders who were killed in the line of duty.

House Bill 75 addresses a joke that Gov. Pat McCrory made in his State of the State speech: “Everywhere (a highway) gets wider, it’s named for a politician or a DOT board member.” McCrory’s message was that politicians like to put their names on pet road projects that might not have been funded under an objective ranking system.

In addition to coveted segments of roadways, the new requirement would apply to “bridges, overpasses and any other highway structure” the state might name.

The bill is sponsored by Republican Rep. Dana Bumgardner of Gastonia, Republican Rep. John Blust of Greensboro and Democratic Rep. Grier Martin of Raleigh. The rule would only apply to state-maintained roads, so cities and private developers could still pick any name they like.

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