We were preparing to move during ReaganFest ’04: The Funeral, so I was a bit distracted. What’s more, we were living in Blue America, which probably had a different take on the week than the places we were seeing on TV did. But never mind that. It seemed the week just got stranger as it went along — the weeping louder, the mourning more hysterical. Just like when Diana died, maybe not quite that bad, but close.
So when, a few weeks ago, some local Republicans proposed renaming our semi-outerbelt the Ronald Reagan Freeway, I wasn’t surprised. It’s preferable to blasting the crap out of Mount Rushmore.
But I have been surprised by the public reaction, at least as far as you can gauge it by letters-to-the-editor and other public bulletin boards. It’s getting slaughtered. Some hate it because it’s silly (these are my people). Some hate it because it’s a public-works tribute to a man who loathed them. Most just think it’s a bad idea to take a road everyone knows by one name and then give it another, for no real good reason — the guy’s dead, after all.
alex said on October 15, 2004 at 2:18 am
I say we name it after somebody local who’s actually done something for this damn town. Ronald Reagan? All he ever did was show up for self-serving photo ops.
How about Earl Wells, the man who created one of the best zoos in the country right here in the Fort? How about Louie Dunten, the environmentalist who was way ahead of his time, to whom we owe our beautiful Cedar Creek and Isaac Walton League nature preserves? Or for that matter, John and Jane Dustin, who continued to press for environmental preservation? How about a historic figure like General Anthony Wayne? Or Lindley Ninde, pioneer lawyer and slavery abolitionist?
The Ronald Reagan Freeway’s just another stupid idea from a very stupid man, aka Congressman Souder, the crackpot who doesn’t believe in evolution.
ashley said on October 15, 2004 at 2:35 am
Hey, howzabout the most famous Ft. Wayne fella now, DaMarcus Beasley.
elaine said on October 15, 2004 at 8:56 am
And yet, these same “people” will continue to re-elect the bozo(s) who came up with the idea.
Either way, I’m heartened to see such a profoundly negative reaction to the plan – no matter the reason. It means that there really are citizens here in the backwater who actually pay attention.
Marci said on October 15, 2004 at 9:57 am
Good lord. That’s the first I’ve heard of this. Does 469 rate high enough in importance as far as highways are concerned to even justify such a title? This isn’t the District, people, it’s Bumfuck, IN.
Bob said on October 15, 2004 at 11:09 am
Alex, I think it’s incongruous to name an interstate highway after activist for the environment or human rights and dignity. The cost of operating and maintaining the highway system far exceeds the revenues from gas taxes, truck taxes, etc., and the shortfall is covered by the general fund, taxes paid by working people. Expenses minus revenues equals deficit.
Further, the land used for the right of way was taken from the property tax base. Farmers and homeowners make up the lost revenue by paying higher property taxes. An equivalent amount of lane-mileage in state highways was turned over by the state to the county, resulting in additional demands for county revenues for snow plowing, resurfacing and other road maintenance. The people who pay property taxes got hit two ways.
Trucks require three to five times more oil per ton-mile of freight carried than railroads — more pollution and more oil demand to go to war over.
The trucking industry, primary beneficiary of interstate highways, doesn’t have to build or pay the full cost of its infrastructure or pay taxes on it. Railroads, on the other hand, buy their right of way, build their infrastructure, and pay property taxes on it. Interstate highways constitute a major subsidy to the truck freight, giving it a competitive edge over more energy-efficient, less environmentally destructive rail freight. The economic pressure on the railroads leads to abandonment of routes and loss of passenger rail service to people in communities that don’t offer other non-driving options.
Given that the interstate highway system taxes working people while subsidizing an environmentally irresponsible industry and reducing options for the taxpayers, I think it’s entirely appropriate to name the road for a Republican. How about naming it the Mark Souder Pay-through-the-nose-way, and then voting for him to come home and get a job?
Mary said on October 15, 2004 at 11:17 am
Even before Reagan died, there was a stretch of the 118 freeway here in So Cal named after him. Until I switched to using my home office only, I had to take the Ronald Reagan Freeway to the Military Intelligence Highway (honest, I would not make up anything this surreal) to get to Thousand Oaks. The names of those roads had a lot to do with switching to my home office.
alex said on October 15, 2004 at 12:38 pm
Bob, you’re right. What was I thinking?
How’s about this? In tribute to the great presence of Catholicism in these parts, let’s call it the Chastity Beltway.
Bob said on October 15, 2004 at 4:46 pm
Great idea, Alex! And where the Chastity Beltway intersects I-69 we could resurrect the Key Motel.
Connie said on October 16, 2004 at 12:55 pm
Reagan Fest 04, I love it. At our house we kept saying “Reagan is still dead.”
Over here in Michiana we recently renamed the US 20 bypass after our retiring state legislature. 30 years in the state leg and pretty much single handedly responsible for getting the 20/31 bypass built. But that doesn’t mean we actually call it that.