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Angel gets national attention for naming rights plan

State Representative Jan Angel’s plan to sell the naming rights to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge received national attention this month.

Angel, R-Port Orchard, said her office has been inundated with calls and emails from news organizations as far away as Ohio since the Associated Press picked up on her desire to sell the branding rights to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in an effort to decrease toll rates for bridge users.

Last week, the Port Orchard Republican gave interviews on a nationally syndicated CBS Radio Show, and the story has appeared on high profile websites such as BusinessWeek Yahoo! Finance.

Angel has served as a State Legislator in the 26th District since 2000. She has never received this kind of media attention, she said.

“I pulled my car over at a highway rest stop to be interviewed by KOMO 4,” she

said, mentioning Seattle television stations have called her for interviews. “We put the TV camera up and filmed the interview in my car.”

Angel said she has long looked for ways to lessen bridge tolls that cost

drivers $43 million a year and will be in place until 2030. She first tried to refinance the bonds on the 5,400-foot-long bridge, she said, but quickly found out that wasn’t an option.

Inspired by area baseball and football stadiums, she investigated selling the naming rights to the bridge, much like Seattle’s Qwest Field or Safeco Field.

She found that selling the naming rights to the piece of state highway was legal.

“My intention is to get the bridge paid off and lessen the burden for drivers,” she said.

Angel said she is doing her homework in advance of the 2013 legislative session. She hopes to have legislation drafted that will earmark any funds brought in from potential naming rights to make sure they go directly toward the bridge bonds. As the toll rate continues to climb and the number of cars forecasted for the bridge drops, she said, finding a potential partner for naming the bridge becomes even more crucial.

“The toll rate is quickly going up, and that line is pretty steep,” she said.

Angel said the feedback she received from the national media attention is interesting. Since her interviews, she has received two letters from naming rights consultants. Angel spoke to other states’ representatives Friday at the American Legislative Exchange Council about her idea to brand state toll ways. She hoped she could learn from other states who had sponsored roadways, she said.

Most importantly, she said, she has received an outpouring of support from her constituents regarding selling the naming rights.

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” she said.

Angel said any legislation drafted would include language allowing the names of other state and local roadways to be sold.

 

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