Ever wonder how bridges get their names?
In Washington, bridges on state highways usually are named by legislators. The lawmakers make a proposal – typically the name of a fellow politician or a bureaucrat – and present it to the state Transportation Commission for the final OK.
That’s how we ended up with the William A. Bugge Bridge (otherwise known as the Hood Canal Bridge) and the Albert D. Rossellini Bridge (otherwise known as the 520 Bridge or the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge) across Lake Washington.
But there’s more than one way to name a bridge.
“There’s a couple of ways to do it,” said Reema Griffith, executive director of the Transportation Commission. “Lots of times the request comes through the Legislature, which we like because it means there has been a thorough, visible process.”
The other way is from the ground up, through the community.
“Anybody can start the process,” Griffith said. “Really, it’s just a matter of building a case for a particular name.
“The most important thing is that the community supports it. In the case of the Tacoma Narrows bridge, people of the community need to kind of step up.”
If commissioners are convinced the name is the will of the people, they almost certainly will approve it, Griffith said.
What does the commission view as convincing evidence?
“They like to see letters from legislators, and they like to see city or county resolutions, because that way they know there was some kind of public forum,” she said.
A show of support from local chambers of commerce and service clubs also helps.
In the last legislative session, 28 Republican members of the state House proposed renaming the existing Tacoma Narrows Bridge “The Fisher/Oke Bridge” in honor of the late legislators Rep. Ruth Fisher and Sen. Bob Oke, both key players in transportation issues.
The proposal did not make it out of the House Transportation Committee.
Got a good IDEA? we’re listening
Let us know. It could be your chance to make history. Suggest a name for the new Narrows bridge or for both bridges. Send your ideas to newstips@thenewstribune. com or mail them to:
Name the Bridge
The News Tribune
PO Box 11000
Tacoma, WA 98411
The deadline is July 30.