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Namesake for I-680 segment is gone, but not forgotten

By dcuff
Monday, February 7th, 2011 at 1:06 pm in Freeways.

Donald Doyle, the former state assemblyman whom Interstate 680 between Walnut Creek  and Dublin is named after, died Jan 31. If you look closely as you drive along I-680, you can see signs along the freeway marked, “The Donald D. Doyle Highway.”

Doyle was 95. As a state lawmaker in the 1950s, Doyle lobbied for funding for I-680 in the San Ramon Valley – which was built in the 1960s. Read his obit here.

 No disrespect to the late state lawmaker, but the news of his death brings up an old debate: Should government name highways, bridges, or overpasses after people when they’re still in office or still alive.

In a Contra Costa Times story in 2006, Doyle seemed to accept his honor with grace. “It was very nice for the people in office at the time to do this for me, ” Doyle told Times reporter Mike Adamick.

 The story goes on to say, “Doyle is  one of thousands of lawmakers, war heroes, presidents, peace officers, philanthropists and community leaders to have California freeways, bridges, tunnels and overpasses named after them.”

The state had a very loose policy on naming roads and highways until 2004 when it came up with more direction.

According to the story, “The Legislature came up with a set of guidelines stating highways should be named after people, preferably dead people _ unless they are elected officials.”

Another caveat in the guidelines states the state won’t pay for the signs or the maintenance of them.

Doyle and his friends, according to the story, held a cocktail party fund-raiser to buy his signs.

As for other roads and bridges named for people, here’s a partial list below.

— Arthur H. Breed Jr. Freeway

Interstate 580 from Castro Valley to Livermore, named to honor the former assemblyman (1935-47) and senator (1959-62) from Alameda County.

— John B. Williams Freeway

I-980, in honor of a former Oakland Redevelopment Agency director who was known as inspiring and visionary during his 1964-75 tenure.

— John T. Knox Freeway

I-580, from I-80 to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, in honor of the 1960s assemblyman who pushed for I-580 improvements to meet interstate standards.

— Kent D. Pursel Memorial Freeway

I-80, from the Bay Bridge to the Alameda-Contra Costa county line, in honor of the Berkeley councilman and druggist.

— Linus F. Claeys Freeway

I-80, from Highway 4 to the Carquinez Bridge, honoring the landowner, businessman and philanthropist. He was a 1932 graduate of St. Marys College, where two residence halls bear his name.

— MacArthur Freeway

I-580 in Oakland, in honor of the five-star Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who fought in WWI, WWII and the Korean War.

— Warren Freeway

Highway 13 in Oakland, in honor of Earl Warren, the former Alameda County district attorney, California governor and U.S. Supreme Court chief justice.

The Antioch bridge was named after John Nejedly of Walnut Creek, the late state senator who helped secure funding for that project.

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