Newly Christened ‘President Barack H Obama Highway’ Opens In Los Angeles

Most Californians are excited about the designation, but not everyone is.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama
Win McNamee / Getty Images

Most Californians are excited about the designation, but not everyone is.

Not everyone knows that former U.S. President Barack H. Obama briefly lived in Pasadena, California. It was while he attended Occidental College in Eagle Rock from 1979-1981 before transferring to Columbia University in New York.

As a way to honor Obama, California state lawmakers extended a presidential tribute to him by naming a stretch of the California 134 Freeway after him. The honorary roadway runs from State Route 2 in Glendale to Interstate 210 in Pasadena, passing through Eagle Rock, reports LAist.com.

Reflective white letters officially proclaim the President Barack H. Obama Highway on green signs posted along the Los Angeles-area freeway. Installation was completed this week, more than a year after the state law was signed in September 2017.

State Sen. Anthony Portantino and Congressman Jimmy Gomez introduced the motion in December 2016 with overwhelming support from fellow lawmakers.

“This is an exciting day for Southern California and it showcases our deep respect and appreciation for President Obama. The president has often mentioned his fond memories of living in Pasadena and attending Occidental College, so it was very appropriate to name the portion of the freeway he traveled after him. Our community came together to make this happen. It is an honor to be in a position to have helped facilitate this wonderful symbol of our collective respect for the grace and dignity embodied by our 44th President,” Portantino said in a statement.

SCR 8 passed through the California legislature with bi-partisan support. When news of the freeway naming was unveiled, Portantino said he was “inundated” with offers from across the country to pay for the sign. But he chose to keep support for it local. Community members were invited to participate and take “ownership” of the project,” Portantino stated. Local responses were overwhelming, and the sign was quickly paid for.

“So many generous people can share in the accomplishment of this appropriate recognition of an inspiring, positive leader. I am very grateful to Caltrans for its rapid response to our community’s generosity by installing the signs before Christmas. What a great way to bring in 2019. I hope to have a formal unveiling and program in the New Year to properly commemorate the President and our new freeway,” Portantino shared.

LAist.com shared information about the new signs, drawing some interesting comments from people.

“Yay! I drive that way every day to work!” one person shared.

Another took the chance to take a jab at President Donald Trump.

“Maybe we can name a speed bump after our current Commander-in-Chief,” the reader wrote.

California is one of the nation’s most liberal states, giving former presidential nominee Hillary Clinton 61.7 percent of the vote against Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Another Los Angeles-area roadway will soon be named after the 44th president, too. In August 2018, Los Angeles officials revealed plans to rename Rodeo Road to Obama Boulevard.

USA Today reports that Republicans represent 25 percent of the electorate. There were others who expressed their disappointment in the highway designation.

“Must be a dead end,” a person shared on LAist.com’s Facebook page.