Illinois lawmakers voted Tuesday to rename a portion of Interstate 55 after former President Barack Obama.
The state Senate voted in favor a resolution passed by the House last week to designate the stretch of I-55 from the Tri-State Tollway south to mile marker 202 near Pontiac as the “Barack Obama Presidential Expressway.”
State Rep. LaShawn Ford introduced the legislation in February to honor the former president, who calls Chicago’s South Side home and served as an Illinois state senator before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004.
“We can imagine that then state Senator Obama made many trips between Springfield and Chicago on Interstate 55, so it is very fitting that we rename Interstate 55 as the Barack Obama Expressway,” Ford said at the time.
The stretch of I-55 from Lake Shore Drive in Chicago to the Tri-State Tollway is currently named after Adlai Stevenson, the late Illinois governor and two-time presidential candidate.
Ford initially wanted to rename the rest of the 270-mile stretch of the expressway to East St. Louis after Obama, but the portion being renamed was changed in March.
“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, adding, “This would be one of the 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."
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The resolution asks that the Illinois Department of Transportation place signs bearing the expressway’s new name at locations consistent with state and federal regulations.