We’re seeing them more and more often as we travel Missouri; signs designating a stretch of road to someone, even if it’s somebody you’ve never heard of. Daniel Boone has one. Laura Ingalls Wildler has one. George Washington Carver and Mark Twain both have one. And so do Thomas G. Tucker, Bob Ward, and Zack Wheat and William Lark, among others. Stretches of our highways are named for them and for veterans of various wars, people lost on submarines, rivers, and others. One is even named for a railroad. Sally Oxenhandler with the Missouri Department of Transportation says 75 to 80 roads and bridges are named in honor of someone or something. One major highway is about all taken: Interstate 70, 54 miles of which is named “The US Submarine Veterans’ Memorial Highway”, to commemorate the 54 submarines lost in World War II and the Cold War. Other stretches of I-70 are named for baseball players; Mark McGwire in St. Louis and George Brett in Kansas City. Oxenhandler says there’s no danger of running out of roads and bridges. The legislature has the power to designate stretches of road. The State Transportation Commission used to do it, but the job got too big. MODOT’s role is to put up and maintain the signs telling motorists for whom the highway or bridge or overpass is named. This year the legislature passed seven bills naming 13 pieces of roadway and bridges.
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