In this 2003 file photo, Gov. Sonny Perdue does his first official business as Georgia's new governor by reviewing some executive orders (which he signed later in the Senate chamber) in his new office at the Capitol. After his inauguration ceremony at Philips, Perdue rode by car halfway to the Capitol and then walked the final distance with his wife, Mary. RICH ADDICKS/STAFF
Photo: RICH ADDICKS
Photo: RICH ADDICKS

State of Georgia creates Governor Sonny Perdue Highway

The state this week dedicated the section of Interstate 75 that runs through Houston County in honor of former Gov. Sonny Perdue, the state’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction and a strong supporter of his home county while he was in office.

Senate Resolution 892, dedicating the section of the highway, was sponsored by state Sen. Larry Walker III, R-Perry, whose father served with Perdue in the General Assembly. Perdue appointed Walker’s father to the University System Board of Regents.

“Governor Perdue is a strong leader and his personal commitment to the well being of Georgia and its citizens is remarkable,” Walker said at the dedication ceremony Tuesday. “This highway dedication recognizes the positive impact he left on this great state and our local communities.”

The newly dedicated Governor Sonny Perdue Highway runs past the state fairgrounds, which Perdue helped spruce up using state funding, and past the exit for his $14 million Go Fish Georgia Education Center, which lawmakers called a “boondoggle” and The New York Times described as “a symbol of waste.”

Drivers heading south from Atlanta to the state fairgrounds would take the Sonny Perdue Highway to the Larry Walker Parkway, named after the elder Walker.

Georgia politicians have a long history of renaming roads in honor of politicians, alive and dead.

Most governors have, in the past, had parkways, highways, bridges and roads named after them. There’s Savannah’s Talmadge Memorial Bridge, named after Eugene Talmadge, who served as governor from 1933 to 1937 and again from 1941 to 1943. George Busbee, Joe Frank Harris and Zell Miller, three two-term governors who served from 1975 to 1999, all have parkways named after them.

State Sen. Joey Brush, a Republican from Columbia County, tried for years to get lawmakers to limit the naming of state roads, buildings and bridges after politicians. In 2002, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the state had spent at least $1.25 million over the previous three years dedicating 197 roads and bridges.

About 500 facilities were named after various public officials and famous Georgians before Brush finally succeeded in 2003 in getting legislation through the General Assembly prohibiting the naming of property owned by the state after elected officials unless they were dead or out of office for at least five years.

The bill was signed into law by Perdue, who had been out of office a little more than five years when SR 892 was approved.

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