Starbucks Espressway? State could sell naming rights to roads

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by DREW MIKKELSEN / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on January 22, 2013 at 12:26 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 22 at 7:53 PM

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Your future commute could include the Starbucks Espressway or the Boeing Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

HB 1051 would allow private companies to buy naming rights to state highways, bridges, view points and rest stops.

Sponsors say the money raised could off-set the need for tolls.

The funds would pay for road improvements.

The bill has a hearing Tuesday afternoon.

Under the proposal, all name changes would have to be approved by the State Transportation Commission.

The commission would also set the rates.

All of the funds raised from the sponsorships would have to be used to maintain the sponsored section of road.

The bill would not allow tobacco companies or adult entertainment-based companies to seek sponsorships.

"The idea came from trying to keep tolls low on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge," said bill co-sponsor Rep. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard.

Angel said she would want the public to help determine what signage would look like along sponsored roads.

She said she also has a bill to allow naming rights to state parks and benches on state property.

"We're just looking at different ways to help our citizens when money is really hard to come by," said Angel.

Luis Ongpin, who lives in Seattle, would not mind if a business sponsored a freeway or a rest stop.

"These aren't free," said Ongpin, "If someone is willing to pay to put their name on it, I think that's reasonable."

Ongpin said the state should cash in on corporate sponsorships, just like local sports teams.

"Look at our arenas. Look at Safeco Field," said Ongpin.

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