Tuesday, January 13, 2009

US20 In Illinois: Elgin May Rename to Honor MLK Jr.

Here’s a story about the work of one woman to get a stretch of US Route 20 in Elgin, Illinois renamed to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

US 20 may be named for MLK Jr. in Elgin
January 13, 2009

ELGIN -- What began as one resident's proposal to honor the contribution of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is now in the hands of state lawmakers.

It was about one year ago when longtime resident and city Human Relations Commissioner Ina R. Dews first proposed renaming a street after the civil rights leader.

The idea was picked up by area leaders, who spoke out last January in favor of designating a street after King, but little was heard about the matter in the months that followed.

In April, state Rep. Ruth Munson, R-Elgin, submitted a resolution to rename Route 20, currently known as the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial Highway, as Martin Luther King Memorial Highway, a stretch of road that runs from Shales Parkway to the border of Pingree Grove near Rein­king Road.

She said Monday the legislation is expected to be read today before the House of Representatives, where it likely will come to a vote.

If passed, Munson said it would be up to the Illinois Department of Transportation to provide the signage indicating the name change.

She said the movement of the resolution was to have it passed in time for the upcoming Martin Luther King Day celebration, scheduled for Monday, Jan. 19.

"Of course that was always a factor in trying to move the legislation along so that this weekend, it could be at least announced," she said.

The Federal Highway Administration has estimated hundreds of cities across the country have named streets after King. In 1968, Chicago became the first with the designation of a Martin Luther King Drive on the city's South Side.

City Manager Olufemi Folarin said Monday the decision to rename a state-run road as opposed to a city street came down to logistics.

"It's much easier to do that because you don't have businesses with a Route 20 address," he said. "So you'll won't inconvenience residents and businesses by having them change their addresses and spend money for new stationery and those kind of things."

The resolution is one of Munson's final acts as one of the area's state representatives, a position she has held since 2002, when she was first appointed to the seat after the death of Doug Hoeft who died in office. Munson won re-election in 2004 and 2006, but lost her seat to incoming state Rep. Keith Farnham last November.

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