State Rep. La Shawn K. Ford (8th) has drafted legislation to name Interstate 55 the Barack Obama Expressway.
A portion of I-55, from Lakeshore Drive to the Tri-State Tollway, is named after former Illinois Governor and two-time Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson. The remaining 270-mile stretch of roadway from the Tri-State to East St. Louis would be named after Obama, Ford explained in a Feb. 22 statement.
“Barack Obama adopted Illinois as his home, becoming a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago and a professor of law at the University of Chicago,” Ford said.
“Twenty years ago, on January 8, 1997, Barack Obama was sworn in as an Illinois state senator, his first public office,” he said. “We can imagine that then state Senator Obama made many trips between Springfield and Chicago on Interstate 55, so it is very fitting that we rename Interstate 55 as the Barack Obama Expressway.”
If approved, the expressway naming would be just one of several significant roadways across the country that have been named after the 44th president.
Last December, state lawmakers in California and New Jersey introduced proposals to name portions of major roadways in those respective states after Obama. Some locales didn’t wait until the president left office.
In 2013, a city in Tanzania turned Ocean Road into Barack Obama Drive after the former president visited the country in 2013. Barack Obama Boulevard in West Park, Florida took effect in July 2009.
A separate proposal, introduced last month in the Illinois General Assembly by state Rep. Robert Martwick (19th) calls for designating all of I-294 along the Eisenhower Expressway as the President Barack Obama Tollway. That proposal currently sits in the House’s Tollway Oversight Committee.
Four other proposals were introduced in the General Assembly to make Aug. 4, Obama’s birthday, an official state holiday. Gov. Bruce Rauner, who expressed support for the holiday, explained that it “shouldn’t be a formal holiday with paid, forced time off,” according to a Chicago Tribune report.