CHICAGO — Interstate 55 would turn into the Barack Obama Expy. between Cook County and East St. Louis, if a new bill in the Illinois General Assembly passes.
State Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-Austin) on Wednesday announced he was introducing legislation that would rename the expressway.
“Renaming I-55 for President Barack Obama would not only be an honor for America's 44th president, but it will be the right measure we should approve for Illinois' very own state senator and U.S. senator,” Ford said. “This would be one of many highways and byways that will be named for Barack Obama, so it is only right that Illinois be at the forefront of the many actions that will rename streets and highways for President Obama.”
The House also is considering a measure introduced by Rep. Robert Martwick (D-Jefferson Park) to rename the I-294 Tri-State Tollway in honor of Obama. There are also measures in the Illinois House and Senate to create an Obama Day in the state.
Ford has not submitted his proposal to the House, and it's unclear whether it would change the sections of I-55 already named for famous Illinoisans.
East of the Tri-State Tollway, I-55 was renamed the Stevenson Expy. in 1965 a month and a half after the death of former Illinois Gov. Adlai Stevenson. Near the I-270 and I-70 split, I-55 is named for another former U.S. senator, Paul Simon. Between Sprinfield and St. Louis, the expressway is named the Vince Demuzio Expy. for former state Sen. Vince Demuzio.
Ford said his proposal would cover 270 miles of the expressway between the Tri-State Tollway and East St. Louis.
None of the expressway is named for the governor that oversaw its planning in the 1960s, Otto Kerner Jr., who was convicted of federal criminal charges in 1973.