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A bridge named Bob

Published 30-Oct-1991 in the Denver Post
Copyright ©1991 by Ed Quillen. All rights reserved.

The town of Avon has a new bridge, a 150-foot four-laner across the Eagle River. They apparently needed to call it something, since they're only 48 miles from the No Name exit, and two No Names in such proximity might be confusing.

So last Thursday, Bob the Bridge was formally christened. Bob, the winning entry in a contest, was approved last month by the Avon Town Council in a 4-2 vote.

There was opposition. Councilwoman Gloria McRory said Bob made light of all the work required to coordinate the state, the county and the railroad. She wanted something more serious -- Ernest perhaps?

My nomination would be literary. William Shakespeare hailed from Stratford on Avon. If Bob were named Stratford, then Colorado could boast a Stratford in Avon, and we might attract a few stupid tourists who were looking for the second-best bed in Ann Hathaway's cottage.

However, Stratford is just a concatenation of Strat Ford. A ford is where you cross without a bridge, so it's not a good name for a bridge.

Bob the Bridge may indeed deserve a more dignified name, but the problem with naming bridges is that people seldom use the formal names.

Can you name the New Mexico state legislator honored on a plaque at that big bridge across the Rio Grande Gorge between Taos and Chama? Whose name is on that imposing bridge across the Snake River in southern Idaho?

I don't remember, either. Salida's only bridge has a plaque. Nobody calls it the Wentz Bridge, though; it's the F Street Bridge.

Colorado's best public bridge is the steel-arch span on U.S. 24 over the road to Red Cliff. It may have a name, but I've never been brave enough to stop there and look. However, if you say the Tennessee Pass bridge, people know which bridge you're talking about.

I said public bridge, because our most famous bridge is the private Royal Gorge Bridge. In days past, that area was known as the Grand Canyon of the Arkansas.

Thousands of advertising dollars changed that to Royal Gorge. It is the only time that a conscious effort to put a name on a bridge actually succeeded. Otherwise, bridge names just evolve.

Perhaps Avon's efforts will change that, and people will actually call the bridge Bob. Then you'll see billboards on I-70: Only 88 miles to Avon, home of Bob the Bridge. Tourists will flock to see Bob. Other towns will rush to catch up with bridges named Fred and Bill.

Gender-diverse and multicultural names will follow: Bridges named Barb and Sue, and Roderigo and Pahvant. Colorado will lead the world in named bridges, just as New England does in covered bridges. Who could ask for more?

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