What Do You Call That Bridge Again?


June 05, 1994|By ELISE ARMACOST

I hope they pick a name for the new Severn River bridge soon.

BLife was easier when it was still the old Severn River bridge. You had two bridges connecting the Broadneck Peninsula and Annapolis Neck, the old low Severn River Bridge and the new high Severn River bridge.

Now the old bridge is not only new, but high, too. So you've got the new new high Severn River bridge and the new old Severn River bridge.

Annapolis Mayor Al Hopkins, traditionalist that he is, said he'd prefer that the new new bridge remain just "The Severn River Bridge." After all, he says, "That's the name of it."

The Weems Creek Conservancy agrees; it submitted that name to the Maryland Department of Transportation, which has been collecting suggestions for names for months. Somebody else suggested officially designating the new bridge, "The Old Severn River Bridge."

But I respectfully submit that this is all too confusing. The new bridge needs a new name.

And will get one, probably at a dedication ceremony before the end of the year, transportation officials say.

Anybody can recommend a name, but not any name will do. Somebody recently commented that the most fitting moniker would be "The O. James Lighthizer Made Everybody in Pendennis Mount Mad Bridge," but you know that won't fly.

It's too long.

Besides, whether Transportation Secretary Lighthizer is "especially distinguished" -- one of the transportation department's criteria -- is arguable. Not to mention the fact that Mr. Lighthizer has the final say over names for roads, bridges, tunnels and such.

Other than "especially distinguished" people, living or dead, transportation officials say names can include "groups or

associations with special relevance for Maryland" or "aspects of state life . . . unique to Maryland."

And common sense, as well as department policy, dictates that the road or bridge should have some relation to the person, place or thing for which it's being named.

The state already has received plenty of ideas -- 16 so far, not counting 30 proposed names from Annapolis resident Joni Courey, who, the transportation department says, feels the naming of the bridge should express "the love and fellowship of Annapolis."

She'd like the bridge to be called "The Severn-apolis Bridge of Brotherhood," "The Joy of the Navy," or "The Severn-apolis Gapless Pass."

Somehow I have a feeling these will go the way of that Lighthizer/Pendennis Mount suggestion.

The more serious contenders include:

* "The Commodore John Barry Bridge." Barry was a Revolutionary War naval hero known as the "Father of the American Navy."

* "The St. Clair Wright Bridge," to honor the founder of the Historic Annapolis Foundation.

* "The Sir Francis Nicholson Bridge," after the colonial governor who moved the state capital from St. Mary's County to Annapolis almost 300 years ago.

* "The Lt. Milton Earnest Ricketts Memorial Bridge." This one is popular with several members of the General Assembly and community groups and has been the subject of a vigorous letter-writing campaign. Lieutenant Ricketts was a Naval Academy graduate and posthumous recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. He was killed in the Battle of the Coral Sea on May 8, 1942.

* "The W. Roy Parks Memorial Parkway," after the man in charge of building the original bridge in 1924.

* "The Arnie Gay Bridge," in honor of a supporter of the Naval Academy sailing programs and former president of the Annapolis Chamber of Commerce.

* "The Annapolis Badders Memorial Gateway," as a memorial to Chief Machinist's Mate William Badders, a member of the Fleet Reserve Association, Branch No. 24, who participated in a 1939 submarine rescue.

* "Rear Adm. Bruce McCandless Bridge," to honor a World War II naval commander.

Then there are those who think it's wrong to name a bridge after anybody. Too controversial, they say. They like names such as "Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge," "Severn Crossing," "Academy Crossing," "Capital View Bridge," and, for those who really like things simple, "Memorial Bridge."

Personally, I think these are on the blah side. For what it's worth, I encourage Mr. Lighthizer to think twice about old Sir Francis Nicholson. After all, there probably wouldn't be an Annapolis without him, or at least not the Annapolis we know. He made the place a bustling, prospering seat of government.

Mayor Hopkins, who knows these things, says that except for little Francis Street in downtown Annapolis nothing in the state -- capital is named for him. Rowe Boulevard, the city's gateway entrance, was supposed to have been, but at the last minute the name was changed to honor naval officer and former Annapolis Mayor Roscoe C. Rowe.

Here's the chance to make amends.

Elise Armacost is The Baltimore Sun's editorial writer in Anne Arundel County.

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