In October 2002 late night talk show
host David Letterman
began campaigning the city of Indianapolis
to rename the I-465 bypass
around the city to The David Letterman Bypass
in honor of the fame and prestige he's helped bring to his hometown
over the years.
The whole idea started when Late Show with David Letterman bandleader Paul Shaffer had a road named after him in his hometown of Thunder Bay, Ontario. Dave figured that if Paul had a road named after him, than so should he. He began petitioning the mayor of Indianapolis, Bart Peterson, to rename the interstate The David Letterman Expressway and even offered to pay $10 million for the privilege. Peterson waffled on the issue, however, and the next time Dave mentioned the idea on his show he had changed his offer to paying for the new road signs on I-465.
Dave continued mentioning his push to have I-465 named in his honor and one evening on the show a stagehand suggested the road should instead be named The David Letterman Bypass to connect with Dave's well-publicized heart bypass surgery. Dave loved the idea and again made the call for the road to be renamed. In return he offered to pay half of the cost to produce and post new road signs. Dave also said that instead of the city spending money on a lavish ceremony in his honor, all he really wanted was for "The Dave" to be shut down for an hour so that he could drive as fast as he wants one time around the circular highway.
Part in tribute and part in jest a suburb of Indianapolis renamed a section of road "David Drive" that happened to intersect with a pre-existing "Letterman Street". The two signs were posted and designed in such a way that the "Drive" and "Street" were nearly unnoticable and instead the intersection of "David" and "Letterman" would be prominent. However, in a colossal gaffe, the city accidentally spelled the new sign as "Daivd Drive". The error was corrected the next day.
In December 2002 the city of Muncie, ID named one of the most popular alleys in the city "Dave's Alley". However, the dedication ceremony was marred by protestors who demanded that the alley should be named in honor of Jim Davis's cartoon cat Garfield. The protestors argued that while Letterman only lived in the area while he was attending Ball State University, Jim Davis is a native of the area. The two(!) protesters, costumed as Garfield and dog Odie, held picket signs saying "Dave Bites," "Cats Rule, Dave Drools" and "Alleys are for cats."
Meanwhile, David Letterman is still campaigning for the I-465 name change. The city has said that it is not in their policy to name highways after living people, and even if it was it is the voters' job to rename highways. The debate continues...