Would Route 15 by any other name sound as sweet? Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Dist. 25) thinks so.
Carroll recently proposed legislation, bill A2208, that would change the name of highway connecting Sussex and Morris counties to honor the 40th president. Carroll said if the there's a state public school named for Dwight D. Eisenhower and a hospital named for John F. Kennedy, why not a highway for Reagan?
"There are certainly grounds for naming the highway after the greatest president of the second half our century," Carroll said.
Legislation was introduced to rename Route 15 "Ronald Reagan Memorial Highway" soon after his death in 2004, but it had never reached the Senate or Assembly for vote. Carroll said he while was hopeful the bill would pass the Democrat-controlled State Legislature, he wasn't sure it would make it.
Assemblyman Gary Chiusano (R-Dist. 24) said he would co-sponsor the bill, which holds a significant difference over its 2004 incarnation in that it would require no public funds. Instead, the state Commissioner of Transportation would be authorized to accept private donations for signage and other costs associated with the name change, according to the bill.
Chiusano said that could be the deciding factor.
"When you take into consideration we are ready, willing and able to seek private donations for the expenses, I think it's a reasonable bill and I hope we can get bipartisan support," he said.
Chiusano, however, admitted the bill might spend some time on the back burner while the Legislature looks to fix the state's troubled economy.
"We're not looking to make a big public display of effort to get this done," he said. "The fact is though all of us can walk and chew gum at the same time, so while we are looking at ways to improve the New Jersey economy, perhaps this is something we can do simultaneously," he said.
"We would be criticized if we were going to make it a big concerted effort and a top priority."
A pair of business owners along Route 15 didn't have a problem with the switch.
All Budgets Cellular owner Bill Collarusso said it was a great idea.
"Ronald Reagan was a great president," he said. "However, I think changing it may be confusing for people. But, if it's going to be changed, I think it's a good name."
owner Dan Thomas said: "As a Republican, I like the idea. I think it will promote business better than just Route 15. It's unique and gives a personal flavor to the town. It's better than just Route 15."
co-owner Anita Kaschak, however, was ambivalent.
"It really wouldn't bother me either way," she said.
What do you think about naming Route 15 after Ronald Reagan? Take our poll and tell us in the comments.