COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL)— With the upcoming name change of Fort Benning to Fort Moore, city officials are discussing whether to follow suit in renaming roads and streets named after the post. WRBL sat down with Columbus Mayor Skip Henderson who explained where that process stands.
“This is an incredible opportunity for Columbus to participate with a seat on the front row of history because it’s the first time that a military base has ever been named for a husband and wife,” Mayor Henderson said. “And then the other piece of that is that we’re going to try to support soldiers. We don’t support the name on the sign. We support the soldiers that are on the base.”
Several churches, businesses, homes, schools, subdivisions, and medical establishments in Columbus all reside on roads and streets named after Fort Benning. So far, City Council has only presented one update on the potential name changes in the Fountain City; however, the mayor says there are several factors that go into this decision-making process.
“There’s a cost associated with commercial enterprises that are along these roads. They’ve got to change their stationery, their business cards, their sign fronts. Residents, they’ve got a new address that they’ve got to address labels.”
While there are no estimates on changing road names yet, council has already begun looking at the city-maintained Gateway to Fort Benning. A public-private partnership with the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), Columbus Gateway, and Mr. John Flournoy that was put up in appreciation of the Maneuver Center of Excellence.
“The bridge, it’s a little bit more problematic because we have to coordinate with GDOT. They’ll have to shut lanes down,” Mayor Henderson said. “The pressure washing alone, the bid was in excess of $1,000,000. So, it’s something that we’re going to have to plan very carefully for, but we want to show support for the base.”
Mayor Henderson says council will also need to be deliberate in the potential renaming process because Columbus already has a Moore Road. Changing any road or street name directly impacts Public Safety, Fire & EMS services.
He also says nothing will happen overnight. To expedite the process, a team within the consolidated government has already been established to focus on the name changes.
Meanwhile, GDOT is handling the signage changes for state routes and interstates. Across the state of Georgia, 45 signs will need to be changed. According to GDOT, it will be a combination of brand-new signs, and coverings over existing signs with the lettering “Moore.” GDOT will begin sign changes on the afternoon of May 11, starting with locations closer to post.