VIRGINIA

Virginia road naming rights program starts July 1

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Want to get your name on a Virginia road or bridge? You will be able to do it soon, for a price.

Want your name on a portion of a Virginia highway? Your chance may come soon. (Photo: Jay Westcott)

Legislation approved recently by the General Assembly allows the state to sell naming rights for roads and bridges.

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Names that are vulgar, obscene or socially, racially or ethnically offensive are prohibited. Also barred are names that condone or encourage violence or that describe illegal activities or substances.

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Naming rights could generate $27.3 million in revenue in the first five years. Over 20 years, the state could reap about $273 million to help pay for building and repairing roads, the Virginia Center for Transportation Innovation and Research estimates.

The Washington Examiner reports that state transportation officials are working to identify which roads and bridges could be named and what prices should be charged.

Proposals include charging $200,000 for naming rights for major interstates in urban areas and $75,000 in rural areas, $20,000 to $50,000 for primary roads and $5,000 to $17,500 for secondary roads.

Opponents of the legislation question whether selling naming rights will generate enough revenue to meet Virginia's transportation needs.

"To pretend that we're going to make money on naming rights is ridiculous," Sen. Barbara Favola, D-Arlington, told the newspaper. "People aren't going to spend millions of dollars to put their name on a bridge and be associated with congestion."

Michael Cassidy, president of the nonpartisan Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis, said the program is a distraction from resolving the problem of finding adequate funding for transportation.

The program will take effect July 1.

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