Renaming Ellis Avenue after Jackson Blues legend to cost more than $1 million

Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 5:03 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - An effort to rename Ellis Avenue after Blues legend Bobby Rush could run more than $1 million.

Tuesday, city officials briefed the council on the cost of the project, which would include replacing signage and sign trusses along the interstate.

The announcement comes weeks after the council voted to rename Ellis to Bobby Rush Boulevard, after the Grammy-winning Blues legend. It also comes after Ward 6 Councilman Aaron Banks said he had spoken with Central District Transportation Commissioner Willie Simmons about the state helping to cover costs.

Acting City Engineer Robert Lee said costs are so high, in part, because the trusses currently holding up signs along the interstate were built in the early to mid-1980s and would not support the new signage.

“The standards for weight and wind loading were different than today,” he said. “I don’t think anyone realized how much work would be (needed).”

The council voted to rename Ellis after Rush earlier this year. Rush, who is in his 80s, has made more than 400 recordings, according to his website.

Lee said it would cost about $15,000 to replace the current street signs along Ellis. He said the department would likely have to transfer funds from another account to cover costs.

“This is (Councilman) Banks’ issue, I will follow his lead. But if we’re talking about $15,000, I’ll have an item on the next agenda (on) where we can get $15,000 from,” Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes said.

Banks said he had spoken with Commissioner Simmons, who said the state would help foot the bill for costs along the interstate.

A representative for Simmons said the commissioner was not immediately available for comment and said he would speak to WLBT after he again spoke to the city.

Banks told the council he likely needed to revisit his conversation with the commissioner.

Stokes, meanwhile, said the funds could be raised to help cover the expenses.

“Bobby Rush carries enough weight across this country... We could probably raise enough money.”

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