Overpass To Be Named After Bishop Joseph Walker

Posted at 10:32 PM, Apr 18, 2017

Plans to honor one of Nashville's prominent faith leaders stirred up some debate at a Metro Council meeting.

Council members ultimately voted 30-0 with 8 abstentions Tuesday night to name a bridge on Jefferson Street after Bishop Joseph Walker, the pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church.

The bridge is between 11th Avenue North and 12th Avenue North along the 1100 block of Jefferson Street.  It will now be named the Bishop Joseph W. Walker III Overpass.

“Bishop Walker changed our city for the better in countless ways,” said Council Member Erica Gilmore, who sponsored the bill.  “It all began on Jefferson Street.”

Council Member Gilmore cited numerous examples of Bishop Walker’s dedication to his church and community.

However, Council Member Jeremy Elrod expressed some hesitations. He said his concerns had nothing to do with Bishop Walker, but the fact that he doesn’t feel Metro should name a building or structure after someone who is still alive.

“They have not completed their career,” said Council Member Elrod. “They are still working and doing. We have to be careful of how we honor folks because that can have a long lasting impact.”

Council Member Elrod is sponsoring a separate bill that would prevent city structures from being named after people who are still alive.

The Metro Council attorney also said it is unclear who owns the bridge, Metro or the state. However, he said Metro has named bridges on state routes before.

Council Member Gilmore said she hoped to have a naming ceremony this Sunday, Apr. 23. She said that would be in conjunction with Bishop Walker's 25th anniversary as the pastor of Mt Zion Baptist Church.