Think you are an observant motorist? Then buckle up and take the treacherous Charleston driving challenge.
There are streets, bridges and sidewalks that we drive on every day, and we don't even know their real names. Most of us don't even pay attention, and we should. Don't believe it? See if you can guess which of these isn't a real memorial road in the Lowcountry:
a) The John T. Stevens Memorial Bridge
b) The LaFayette Memorial Highway
c) The Theodore Tobias Mappus Jr. Exchange
d) The Steve Mullins Bypass
Now, which is real?:
a) Flamingo Way (a stretch of Folly Road that runs by the Altman residence)
b) The H.L. Hunley Memorial (The Crosstown, when it's raining at high tide)
c) The Republic Parking Floyd Memorial Parking Lot (Interstate 26)
d) The Robert E. Lee Memorial Highway (U.S. 176 pretty much everywhere)
If you know the answers, either you are the guy at Broad River Correctional Institution who made the signs, or you need to quit trying to read while you drive and watch the road.
(The answer to both, by the way, is "d." The Steve Mullins Bypass is not an actual highway, it's a surgical procedure. It just cost as much as a major road project.)
The state Legislature has been most generous in naming roads, bridges, on-ramps, exchanges and connectors after public servants, community leaders and soldiers. They are nice honors, and often commend people who were instrumental in building these projects. But because they aren't people who play important roles in our daily lives - like Paris Hilton or Bill Sharpe - some people don't know exactly who they are.
That's the problem with name dropping. It doesn't do much good if not everyone knows who you're talking about.
It seems the General Assembly might be leaving money on the table here. Why limit the honorable, respectful and - let's face it, potentially lucrative - practice of memorial roads to politicians and community leaders? James F. Byrnes may have been a great governor, senator and Supreme Court justice, but what did we really get for naming the entire Interstate 26 for him?
NASCAR would have paid more, and it might have been more appropriate.
And why should we subject Johnnie Dodds to people cussing at him as they sit stuck in traffic, looking at his name on a sign? How about the Dodge Caravan Parkway? Nice ring to it, huh?
Of course, probably couldn't get much sponsorship money for that. Trying to sell minivans in Mount Pleasant would be like selling space heaters in Alaska: every living soul already has one.
But build that speedy access road from Kiawah and Seabrook into town and see how much we could get for calling it the Bavarian Motor Works Autobahn. Talk about target advertising. We could pay for all the schools with that one.
Better still, we could free up valuable state revenue by making the people who will benefit from a road pay for it. By that reckoning, the 526 extension over Johns Island could be sponsored and named the Beezer-Centex Highway. Naming rights: $420 million.
While this would bail the state out of its financial problems for decades, curing all our ills, this doesn't have to be all about dollars and cents.
There are still many one-way and dead-end streets suitable for naming after politicians.
Please sign our petition to rename Columbus Street the Steve Mullins Bypass.
And get well soon, Boss. Reach Brian Hicks at 937-5561 or firstname.lastname@example.org