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Bridge for sale | Editorial

Selling the naming rights to the eastbound Tacoma Narrows Bridge is the right side of simple genius.

Public property in the form of stadiums is often named in bid financial deals. While there is not much precedent with Washington state highways, there is no real reason to expect less than millions in revenue from the bridge, especially if the deal is done by industry leader that bargains with experience for municipalities’ with high-value properties.

We like the idea of Ford as the main sponsor of the bridge formally know as the Narrows. A classic heavyweight with long ties to the roads, Ford even has their own cash reserve to pay for it. General Motors could keep the auto theme sponsors interested while promoting a subtext of forced public-private partnership by nailing down a good deal on the $750 million behemoth that costs drivers a toll fee equal to a gallon of a gas – if you are not Good To Go eastbound.

Once the debt is repaid, the naming practice could stand in place and the revenue join the $2-per-employee employment tax expected to fund the 2011 high capacity transportation law favored by most of the state legislators in Kitsap County. In the long run, the naming sale would be like a giant rebate for everyone using the bridge. Every gallon of gas burned crossing the mile-long spans delivers 37 cents to the state for highways.

Toyota could make a larger statement about the future of individual transportation and sponsor the bridge through the Prius line. Or, the obvious, Toyota Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Toyota did spend $2 million to put their blazing red emblem above the left field wall at Wrigley Field last year.

Depending on which side of the bridge you live, left or right, a big oil company, such as British Petrolium stepping into the sponsorship game with some of its record profits in partnership with NASCAR could be a favorable way to stave off the projected toll rate climb into the $5 to $7 range – $4 for pass holders – if the legislature doesn’t delay the repayment scheme for a few more years.

The two bigger bridges in the nation, Golden Gate ($6 to cross) and George Washington Bridge ($7 to $12 to cross), retain their given names in the new growing public-private infrastructure economy. But for how long?

Perhaps the most naming right royalties could come from Hollywood. Hoist a big Northwest remake of the Hollywood sign across the superstructure. A Galloping Gertie theme park danger ride across Disneyland’s Paradise Bay that tumbles into a “created” torrent below, could fund the sponsorship. There is already a market for Tacoma Narrows Bridge memorabilia.

As potential sponsors line up for the top deck sales, the over under should not be forgotten. That waterway passing below the magnificent dual mile-long suspensions of the multigenerational twin roadways holds extra transportation-based sponsorships. The under bridge signage can earn more per square inch from the boating community simply by marinizing it and charging double.

Editor Greg Skinner

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