Stephens: No to ‘Low’, but Juliette may stayBY ERIC CURL firstname.lastname@example.org
Concerns about the potential marketing impact of having a“Low” bridge — when ships are getting increasingly bigger — has apparently led state legislators to reconsider what they want to call the bridge into Savannah.
And two lawmakers behind the effort say they are determined to move the legislation forward because the 27-year-old bridge, now known as the Eugene Talmadge Memorial Bridge in honor of a former state governor and segregationist, was never officially named in the first place.
A bill to name the bridge after Juliette Gordon Low did not make it out of committee by Crossover Day at the Georgia Capital, but state Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, said the legislation to honor the Girl Scouts founder and Savannah native could still move forward by attaching it to another bill — although her last name may be dropped from the proposal.
Instead, Stephens said he is leaning toward naming the bridge something along the lines of the Juliette Great Savannah Bridge to alleviate fears competitors would capitalize on ships having to go under a “Low” bridge to get to the Georgia Ports.
“As funny as that might sound, I get it,” he said. “Competition is extremely high between our ports.”
The effort to rename the bridge comes after the Savannah City Council approved a resolution in September for Georgia legislators to rename the state bridge to make the structure more representative of the community. While the city council proposed “The Savannah Bridge” as a name, legislators later introduced the bill naming the bridge after Low following a lobbying effort by the Girl Scouts.
In the end, Stephens said the legislation could be attached to his resolution to name the new King George Boulevard bridge after Edward Zipperer, a Savannah native who served on the Georgia Senate from 1967 to 1975.
Stephens said he will be meeting with the legislative delegation on Monday to discuss how to move forward on the proposal.
“We’ve got until the end of the session to get it on the naming bill,” he said. “So we’ve got some time.”
Sen. Lester Jackson, D-Savannah, said he will also push for the naming effort to be attached to another bill, and is open to an alternative such as the Juliette Gordon Bridge — reflecting her maiden name — or Girl Scouts of America Bridge, if necessary, although he is not convinced the concerns about having “Low” in the name are serious. Still, Jackson and Stephens said they have found that state lawmakers never named the “new” bridge that replaced the old Talmadge bridge in 1991, and that the name had been designated by the Georgia Department of Transportation.
“The department of transportation didn’t have the right to name any bridge,” Jackson said. “The Georgia General Assembly has the obligation to name bridges and roads and in this instance the bridge that runs into Savannah can be attached to any other legislation that is germane.”