Stow seeks to rename Route 8 bridge to honor U.S Rep. Lewis

Kent Weeklies
In this July 16, 2019, file photo, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., speaks during a television interview at the Capitol in Washington. Stow City Council will be introducing legislation Sept. 10 to rename the Route 8 bridge on Steels Corners Road in his honor.

The Stow City Council, with the support of Mayor John Pribonic, is hoping to honor the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis with a special tribute. They want to rename the bridge that goes over state Route 8 at Steels Corners “John Lewis Bridge.”

Inspiration for the renaming to the John Lewis Bridge came from many sources, including the personal letters, emails and public comments that have been submitted over the past four months. In June, council passed a resolution to promote racial equality in Stow, co-sponsored by Councilwomen Sindi Harrison and Christina Shaw. The naming of the bridge continues the city of Stow’s commitment to fulfill the goals of that unanimously passed resolution.

The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) owns the bridge; therefore, the city  does not have naming rights. Council will need to introduce legislation to get approval to rename the bridge. In the first step of the process, council will present legislation at its meeting on Sept. 10. If approved there, they will need to present the legislation to the Ohio General Assembly in order to have ODOT rename the bridge.

“This would serve as a teachable moment, now and well into the future,” said Councilman Steve Hailer, who proposed the idea. “It would allow us, here in Ohio, to honor Representative Lewis’s historic march across the bridge in Selma, Ala., and start a conversation about who he was and what he did for this country. I am hopeful that we will get the approval to honor the late congressman and pioneer of civil and equal rights.”

If the Ohio General Assembly passes the renaming legislation, Stow will plan a naming ceremony for March 7, 2021, to commemorate the historic day in Selma, Ala., when John Lewis and other civil rights activists marched across the bridge. As part of the ceremony, a march will begin at the Stow Municipal Courthouse and continue across the bridge.

Residents are encouraged to email their brief communication of support, including their address, to the Clerk of Stow City Council Lorree Villers at lvillers@stow.oh.us.

“John Lewis was a tremendous man, an incredible patriot and a staunch supporter of equal rights, and it would be a great honor for the city of Stow to rename the bridge after him,” said Mayor John Pribonic.