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Virginia road naming rights proposal made by Bob McDonnell

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Crossing the Potomac river from Maryland into Virginia on the American Legion Bridge, a huge sign states, "Welcome to Virginia, Open for Business.”

(Photo: Heather Farrell)

The idea also embraces an idea that Governor Bob McDonnell says has the potential to create millions of dollars for transportation improvement.

The governor's proposal would allow private entities--corporation and private groups--to pay an annual fee to brand a bridge, roadway or interchange.

Like a spin-off of FedEx Field and the Verizon Center, Virginia would put a price on corporate sponsorship.

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McDonnell wants the Virginia General Assembly to consider authorizing the Commonwealth Transportation Board to sell naming rights.

Virginia resident Kip Caldwell had this reaction:

"It would be a good idea; that way we don't have to pay for it," Caldwell says. “Somebody like CVS wants to pay for it to maintain the roads instead of us, I'm all for it."

This is an idea that has taken off in other cities for public facilities. In Philadelphia, a transit station long named for a 19th century governor, is now known as AT&T Station.

In Brooklyn, New Yorkers now use the Barclay's subway stop. During last year's legislative session, a Prince George's County delegate offered a similar proposal. The idea never made it out of a sub-committee.

In this area where so many road and bridge names reflect a couple of centuries worth of history, the concept has its critics, including McLean resident Caitlin Norton.

"It seems a little bit ridiculous to me, I kind of like the idea of being able to drive around on roads that have some historical significance to where I live,” Norton says.

The governor's proposal doesn't have specifics, such as if alcohol and tobacco companies could be included in the branding deal.

Others wonder if families came up with the yearly fee, whether they could create their own public tribute.

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