Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has his first taker on his offer to let people pay to name the state's highways and bridges. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wants to name a Virginia road "Spay Today Way."
"We were excited to learn of the opportunity to name Virginia roads, and we want to be among the first applicants," PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman wrote to state Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton. "A 'Spay Today Way' would be a fun way to remind motorists about the lifesaving benefits of spaying and neutering dogs and cats and about their responsibility to have their own companion animals sterilized."
The Virginia General Assembly recently passed the governor's transportation bill that included a novel provision that allows the state to sell the naming rights to pieces of its transportation infrastructure as long as the names are not vulgar or "sexually explicit or graphic," among other caveats. Initial revenue projections show roads selling for $5,000 to $200,000.
During debate over the issue, some lawmakers questioned whether any organizations would really want to pay thousands to name a road or bridge.
PETA is willing to pay, but did ask Connaughton for a unspecified discount, saying the organization is nonprofit and the road name would be "a message we can all agree on," according to PETA spokeswoman Carrie Snider.
"I think it's something so basic that everyone who cares about animals can agree on," she said. "It's not sexy. It's not provocative. It's just about the health and safety of animals. We have 8 million animals entering shelters every year, and about half of them are euthanized."
Snider said PETA has not yet selected the road it wants to name, since the state hasn't released the list of roads that would be eligible.
The governor has yet to sign the legislation, which would take effect July 1, at which point the Virginia Department of Transportation would hash out rules for how exactly the program will work.