Virginia Debates How to Make Mapquest Recognize Its 'Burger King Bridge'

As Virginia drafts new rules to govern the sale of naming rights to its highways, interchanges, and bridges, public officials want to ensure that their new "marketing technology" provides more than just a sign on the road, reports Liz Essley.
July 23, 2012, 2pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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In drafting the rules for Gov. Bob McDonnell's initiative seeking to raise money for transportation projects by selling naming rights to Virginia's public infrastructure, state officials are making sure private companies get their money's worth. According to Essley, "Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton is pushing to make sure that when a company like Burger King pays to name a road, the company's name will also pop up in front of potential customers on smartphone directional apps and Internet maps."

Speaking recently in front of the Commonwealth Transportation Board, Connaughton argued that, "The real value in naming rights isn't solely a name or a sign on a major thoroughfare. It's the thousands of people who look through the Web and through smart apps. They may never drive on that specific piece of highway but still can be touched by this marketing technology."

Estimated to generate $273 million over 20 years, critics are incensed by the high vulgarity, and low economic benefit, of the plan.

"It tell us about the sad state of transportation that we have to use gimmicks like this," said AAA Mid-Atlantic's John Townsend. "The highway belongs to the public, and we're building these highways with the taxpayers' money."

 

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Published on Sunday, July 22, 2012 in The Examiner
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