Reject naming rights

February 5, 2013 

Rep. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, wants to sell the naming rights to state buildings and transportation facilities, such as the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. She says it’s a plan to keep toll rates down and preserve our state’s transportation infrastructure.

It’s a bad idea.

Washington state is not so desperate that it needs to hang crass billboards promoting companies and products from bridges and, heaven forbid, the Capitol dome.

Blurring the lines between commercial property and public assets, paid for over decades by proud Washington citizens, is not worth any price.

Private entities are unlikely to ante up significant dollars anyway. The debt payments alone on the Narrows Bridge total $45 million per year.

If Angel knows somebody willing to ante up $45 million a year just to hang a sign on the Narrows Bridge, we say, “Make it neon!”

Nor will naming rights generate the $50 billion we need to repair and maintain our transportation system over the next 10 years. The state of Virginia sold such rights for all 43 of its rest areas for a mere $2 million per year.

If we seriously wanted to honor those who paid dearly for state buildings, roads and bridges, we’d put our own names on them.

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