Portantino Proposes Naming 134 Freeway for Obama

If a resolution presented by newly elected state Sen. Anthony Portantino is adopted, drivers on the 134 Freeway between Glendale and Pasadena will always be able to joke, “Thanks, Obama,” when they run into traffic — an “Obamajam,” perhaps? — on that stretch of roadway.
In late December, Portantino introduced a resolution proposing that the approximately 4½-mile stretch of freeway be named the “President Barack H. Obama Freeway,” in honor of the 44th president, whose second term concludes today, Jan. 19.
Obama attended Occidental College in Eagle Rock from 1979 until 1981, when he transferred to Columbia University. The freeway is nestled on the hillside above Eagle Rock.
Portantino said he was inspired by Pasadena’s dedication to Obama, who recently received a commemorative plaque on the apartment where he lived while studying at Occidental.
With support from Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, Portantino introduced the resolution, SCR 8, which reads, in part, “President Obama … spent two years at Occidental College in Los Angeles from 1979 to 1981 … which played a major role in determining his future. He made his first political speech there on February 18, 1981, as part of a movement to persuade the Occidental Board of Trustees to divest the college of its investments in South Africa.”
“He’s leaving office with enormous popularity, and regardless of whether you agree or disagree with his politics, he certainly has carried himself with dignity and stature,” said Portantino, who represents the 25th District, which extends from Tujunga to Upland and includes Eagle Rock.
“I thought it would be appropriate to memorialize his presence in the region and provide inspiration for other young people.”
Portantino said he often references Obama when he speaks to young people in the region.
“I point out that our neighborhood sends rovers to Mars and men to the White House, and I always challenge students, ‘Who’s next?’” Portantino said.
He said he has heard some criticism of the idea from people who aren’t fans of the outgoing president but that the “overwhelming” feedback has been positive.
“That’s unfortunate,” Portantino said. “Commemorating the commander in chief should not be a partisan issue in my opinion.”

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