Tuesday, April 15, 1997
Ohio wants to dump
'Reagan' for SR 126

Highway name too big for sign, state says

BY ANNE MICHAUD
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The state of Ohio plans to remove the name of Ronald Reagan from the Cross County Highway.

The highway - which goes from county to state control when 39 years of construction ends this year - will simply be State Route 126.

Kim Patterson, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Transportation, said Monday that ''Ronald Reagan'' just won't fit.

''It's really just not feasible to have that large a name and State Route 126 on the same sign,'' Ms. Patterson said.

She said Hamilton County commissioners ''were told this from the very beginning. They were told that before the words 'Ronald Reagan' were added onto existing signs.''

Commissioners disagree. They say there was an agreement to drop the ''cross county'' and keep ''Ronald Reagan'' along with the new state route number.

The highway, which will connect Montgomery Road in the east and Interstate 275 in the west, was renamed in 1993 over loud public objection.

The change was orchestrated by Commissioner John Dowlin, who organized a $50-a-plate dedication ceremony that included Mr. Reagan's daughter, Maureen. The county raised nearly $15,000 to add ''Ronald Reagan'' to existing Cross County Highway signs. Supporters also erected new signs.

Mr. Dowlin, for whom the former president is a personal hero, said many roads are named for people.

''What about Ezzard Charles Drive? What about Martin Luther King? It all comes down to whose particular hero it turns out to be.''

The route is scheduled to be completed in September, Ms. Patterson said. It will change to state ownership at the beginning of next year. The old Ohio 126 will revert to its local street names: Kemper Road, Glendale Milford Road, Kenwood Road, Cooper Road, Remington Road.

While confusing, it's standard procedure, said Gary Ketron of ODOT's district office in Lebanon. ''We try to maintain the same approximate miles of state highway,'' he said.

The old 126 signs will come down, he said, and those roads will be maintained by the county in the future.