LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Yum Brands' social media campaign to name the new Interstate 65 bridge for Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Col. Harland Sanders seems to be building steam.
The Louisville-based parent company of mega-fast-food brands KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut originally tweeted a photo illustration in early February showing a photo of KFC founder Col. Harland Sanders superimposed over a rendering of the downtown span of the Ohio River Bridges Project.
Subsequent posts with the hashtag ColonelBridge this month have garnered about 400 retweets, as well as comments from others on Twitter and Facebook like Bryan Baise, a philosophy professor at Boyce College.
"I only want it named #ColonelBridge if that lovely image of Col. Sanders shows up in the sky, waving to me and saying 'Welcome to Kentucky,'" Baise tweeted.
Some have voiced resolute online support for the name, while others question whether Sanders is the best person to honor.
It's one of two ideas that have been floated in recent months as construction emerges on both sides of the Ohio River between downtown Louisville and Jeffersonville.
Kentucky state Sen. Dan Seum, R-Louisville, introduced a resolution in January directing the Transportation Cabinet to designate the new bridge as the Ronald W. Reagan Memorial bridge and erect appropriate signs.
The resolution was sent to the Senate transportation committee on February 4 and legislators recessed Tuesday until April 14 with just two days remaining in the session.
Kentucky and Indiana are building two new toll bridges — one downtown and the other eight miles upriver — to improve cross-river mobility between Louisville and Southern Indiana. The $2.34 billion project, which also involves reconfiguring the existing I-65 interchange with Interstates 64 and 71, is expected to be completed in December 2016.
Kentucky is in charge of the downtown portion of the project, while Indiana is responsible for the eastern crossing.
The downtown bridge is being built just east of the exiting I-65 bridge that opened and was named for President John. F. Kennedy shortly after he was assassinated in 1963. The new bridge eventually will carry northbound traffic while southbound I-65 drivers will use a renovated Kennedy Memorial Bridge, which also will be tolled.
Sanders' history, like the bridges, spans both the Indiana and Kentucky sides of the river. He was born in Henryville, Ind. in 1890 and founded Kentucky Fried Chicken in Corbin, Ky.
After developing more than 600 franchise locations around the concept of a "secret recipe" of 11 herbs and spices following the first franchise in Utah in 1952, Sanders sold Kentucky Fried Chicken for $2 million in 1964 to a corporation formed by John Y. Brown Jr., of Louisville, Lee Cummings, of Anchorage, Jack Massey, of Nashville, Kenny King, of Cleveland, and Pete Harmon, of Salt Lake City.
In 1971, Brown and Massey sold the company to Heublein Inc. PepsiCo Inc. bought it in 1986 and spun it off in 1997 as part of the Tricon Corp., which later became YUM Brands. The longer chain name was condensed to KFC, which now has about 14,000 restaurants worldwide, including 4,500 in the U.S., according to YUM Brands website.