Insulting Highway Signs Not So Grt

July 11, 2005
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As you cruise the Michigan highways this summer, take special note of the incredible disrespect the state of Michigan and Michigan Department of Transportation has heaped on the citizens and neighbors of Grand Rapids. Since the closing days of Gov. G. Mennen Williams’ term and continuing into the term of current Gov. Jennifer Granholm, highway marker signs placed on Michigan’s extensive highway system insultingly have referred to Grand Rapids as Gd Rapids.

This insult, evidently, has not raised the ire and indignation of our local, state and federal elected officials, nor has it apparently offended the area’s major political contributors or area voters. Are we the only ones recognizing this insult?

We ask a simple question: Why does this injustice continue administration after administration, legislative session after legislative session, director after director, and commissioner after commissioner?

We also ask other questions: How did this happen? Who approved these signs? Where did those illiterate officials who granted the approvals graduate from?

Not even Grand Haven suffers this ignominy. And when was the last time you saw Traverse City written as Tr City, Kalamazoo as Kazoo, Benton Harbor as Bn Harbor, Battle Creek as Bt Creek, or even Cedar Springs as Cd Springs? This urban slight needs to be corrected immediately and must never be allowed on any marker signs. The reputation of our city as the “Cool City” in Michigan, our expanding economy, and our position on the national scene are at stake. On behalf of our citizens, we demand that this shame be corrected!

When visitors enter Michigan from the Indiana and Ohio borders, first indicators that the state’s second largest city exists do not occur until north of Benton Harbor, Battle Creek and Ann Arbor. Recognition should begin at the border!

This lack of acknowledgment for Michigan’s second largest city is inexcusable. These highway signs showcase “Gd Rapids,” not Grand Rapids. The affront continues all the way to our very city limits. And, this ridiculous situation occurs in every direction — south, east, west and north of us.

The solution is long overdue. The Business Journal calls on our local, state and federal elected officials to remedy this insult immediately. Restore our pride and reputation. Repaint or replace existing signs that bear the offensive abbreviation.

We also urge the area’s major political leaders and contributors to make their displeasure known in unambiguous, unequivocal terms. Our citizens and future generations demand that this deplorable situation be corrected now, not 10 years from now. This insult must not be allowed to deteriorate as we construct more highways.

We also urge area voters to contact their elected officials and demand they correct this easily solved problem.

We are building millions of dollars’ worth of new hotels, entertainment and visitor facilities, housing, infrastructure, etc., and just the thought of our visitors laughing at the “Gd” abbreviation is offensive, insulting and demeaning.

If we are going to retain the mantle as Michigan’s Cool City, let’s at least ensure the state of Michigan recognizes us for who and what we are: We are not Gd Rapids. We are Grand Rapids.    

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