Bridge name controversy - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Bridge name controversy

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 RAPIDES PARISH, La. (KALB News channel 5) - The bridge set to replace the OK Allen Bridge may still be under construction; but the new name has been chosen. However there is a slew of controversy about the process by which it was named.  

Upon completion, the bridge that will connect Alexandria and Pineville will officially be named the Curtis-Coleman Memorial Bridge. 

"There have been a number of individuals who have made comments saying we can’t let the late Rep. Curtis go without some landmark to recognize his achievements. The same comments are coming from Pineville about Coleman," said Representative Herbert Dixon.

Governor Bobby Jindal signed House Bill 1140 into law on Monday, which included an amendment by Rep. Dixon for the naming. It was a move some say was not right. 

According to Rep. Lance Harris, Dixon "kind of snuck through the process in the last 5 days of the session. The name of the bridge is not the issue – its how it was done".

"We practice transparency in communicating with our people and other officials, this was just handled improperly as far as I'm concerned," said Mayor Clarence Fields of Pineville.

While others find the process improper, Dixon stands by his decision. 

"The process used was simply adding an amendment to a bill. There were time constraints put on me and I didn’t want to wait to produce my own bill. So I took advantage of rules that are proper rules of the house, that are implemented all the time. Gov. Bobby Jindal signed it -- that alone is recognition that it went through the proper channels, " says Dixon.

He also notes that everyone should celebrate the fact that the bridge will honor two prominent African Americans. Construction on the bridge will be complete by 2016, and if the naming is to be challenged, Dixon says, so be it.

"If they feel so strongly that the naming of a bridge ought to be the center of their action for the next year – that’s their right to do so." 

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