Washington DC – With growing federal deficits and spending cuts forecast, the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) announced it will begin selling naming rights to all federal interstate highways and interchanges starting in 2021. The new program, dubbed Operation Cashphalt, is expected to raise $17 billion annually for interstate road projects. The renaming process will begin October 1, 2020. The new names are expected to be in place by February 1, 2021.
“This will be a virtual auction process,” said FHA assistant undersecretary Carlos Rincon. “We’ve already had inquiries from Fortune 500 companies and sports teams. We’ve also had info requests from music and entertainment superstars.”
Source Magazine reports Rapper Lil Wayne and his music label have indicated they will bid on interstate I-40 which spans the entire continental U.S. from California to South Carolina. “For real, you know folks would love to be riding dirty, drinking a 40 on the I-40 if it was called Interstate Weezy,” suggested Lil Wayne’s media agent, Sherrod ‘Bugsy’ Worrell.
A fierce bidding war for highway naming rights in major U.S. cities is anticipated. Drink rivals Pepsi and Coca-Cola as well as retail giants Walmart and Target have all indicated they will bid intensely to keep their rivals from capturing heavily-trafficked interstates and urban interchanges.
The FHA and Alcohol Don’t Mix
The program is already facing court challenges from alcoholic beverage giants, challenging the guidelines that prohibit names connected to alcohol-related products.
“Our billboards already advertise along most interstates,” said Anson Cullen, attorney for the American Alcohol Beverage Council. “So we’re confident the courts will find inherent bias in regulations. They can’t, in good faith, allow an Interstate Zanax while prohibiting an Interstate Jose Cuervo.”
Other professional organizations are also lobbing criticism at the FHA proposal. Accu-Traffic President Dave Freya thinks the naming scheme could create some awkward situations for traffic reporters. “No mom with a van full of kids wants to hear ‘There’s a huge spill at the K-Y Jelly Interchange. Your best alternative is to take Cialis and jump onto Kim Kardashian West’,” observes Freya.
Despite concerns, top officials at the National Weather Service have also expressed keen interest in the Federal Highway Administration’s naming rights program. They see unpredictable weather providing a potential source of predictable revenue. National Weather Service spokesperson Amy Sanders, indicated a similar naming program will be considered by her agency for tropical storms and hurricanes. Of course, this depends on success of the FHA program.
“We are confident a storm-naming program through our agency would attract a lot of corporate interest,” said Sanders. ”We feel we can attract top dollar for naming rights such as Tropical Storm State Farm or Hurricane Trump. However, only time will tell.”
Marc Yaffee is a nationally-touring stand-up comedian (laughwithmarc.com). You can currently see his latest comedy special, Mid-Laugh Crisis, for free at drybarcomedy.com/Marc. Additionally, please check out Marc Yaffee’s podcast How Does That Happen?