A Stretch of California Highway Now Honors Merle Haggard
Merle Haggard has received a new honor in his home state of California: A stretch of highway now bares his name.
As reported by the Record Searchlight, the Interstate 5-Highway 44 interchange in Redding, Calif. -- located about 10 miles west of Palo Cedro, where Haggard was living at the time of his death -- will now be named the Merle Haggard Memorial Overpass. Two local radio personalities were instrumental in drumming up the funding for the project, which was backed by state Sen. Ted Gaines.
"Basically, we have been talking about something for a long time, like we needed to name a street after Merle," says Patrick of the Billy and Patrick Mornings show on Q97 FM. "We didn’t want people to give money and not get anything back, so we thought, let’s do T-shirts.”
Haggard's favorite restaurant in Redding, Lulu’s Eating & Drinking Establishment, stepped up to the plate to help by providing the money to print the T-shirts, which were sold for $20. The community raised the required $2,500, and signs naming that piece of highway after "the Hag" have been posted.
An official dedication ceremony for the new Merle Haggard Memorial Overpass signs will be held on Oct. 25; the Haggard family has been invited to attend, the Record Searchlight reports. Haggard died on April 6, 2016 — his 79th birthday — after a brief struggle with pneumonia. He grew up in the Bakersfield area of California, located a little over 400 miles south of Redding.
10 Essential Merle Haggard Lyrics