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Hansen in road sign rage over lack of Reagan airport markers

Published: Sunday, June 7 1998 12:00 a.m. MDT

Call it road sign rage.

Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, says the National Park Service is trying to slight Ronald Reagan by leaving his name off signs directing motorists to the newly renamed Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.So he is warning Park Service Director Robert Stanton to either put Reagan's name on signs now being made or Congress will order other signs with the money for them to come out of Stanton's personal office bud-get.

Hansen, chairman of the House Resources Subcommittee on National Parks and Lands, made the warning in a letter with House Resource Committee Chairman Don Young, R-Alaska.

They wrote Stanton that the planned omis-sion is "a politically motivated attempt to minimize the accomplishments of one of the greatest American presidents."

The Republican-controlled Congress this year ordered renaming of what had been Washington National Airport. Hansen and Young complained, "It is not within the jurisdiction of the Park Service to overturn laws passed by Congress."

The signs in question would be on the George Washington Memorial Parkway - a highway operated by the Park Service along the Potomac River between Washington's Mount Vernon home and the "beltway" free-way. It is a major route to the airport.

Hansen and Young complained that the Park Service was planning to replace signs on the highway anyway, so adding Reagan's name should not increase costs. They were upset at Park Service comments that adding Reagan's name "doesn't matter."

"Does the Park Service also intend to drop the name of the first president from the George Washington Memorial Parkway, or the name of Lafayette from Lafayette Park because their names `don't matter?' " Hansen and Young wrote in their letter.

"We expect that you will reverse this ill-advised decision at once," they wrote. They added that if it doesn't happen, "We will require by statute that the new signs be replaced immediately, with all funds coming directly out of the budget for the office of the director."

The Park Service is not the only agency that has complained about the new long name of the airport. Virginia officials have complained about the $80,000 they say it will cost to add Reagan's name to state highway signs there.

Rep. James Moran, D-Va., who represents the area around the airport, has vowed to drop Reagan's name from the airport should Democrats retake control of Congress. He objected to the expense and controversy related to the change.

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