The Beeline Highway has been awarded the designation of an Arizona Scenic Road. It's a wonderful thing from the perspective of the people who have worked for the honor for more than two years. It is also believed to be a great boon to tourism, according to Scott Flake, director of the Payson Regional Economic Development Corporation.
There is a big fly in this ointment though -- the official name of the designated portion of Highway 87. The entire road has long been known as the Beeline Highway, but it might not be possible to keep that name.
Flake said he was told the name "Beeline" was originally only meant for the stretch between McDowell Road and the Bush Highway.
A member of the state committee that oversees the scenic designations said such names usually reflect a geographical feature of the road.
The newly designated scenic stretch of Beeline is from around Four Peaks Road to just south of Ox Bow Estates. Does any particular geographic feature of those 42 miles jump in front of your mind's eye?
The road has been known as the Beeline for as long as most residents of Payson can remember. It probably can't get the name "Rim Highway" because that is most likely reserved for East Highway 260, Flake said.
Is a town a geographic feature? If so, how about calling it the Payson Highway?
A town really isn't a geographic feature per se; it is a "political feature" as maps go -- though "Webster's II" includes the names of cities, etc. in its "geographic entries" section.
For that matter, what kind of "geographic feature" is "Beeline"?
It could be worse. If the scenic designation came all the way into Payson, think how many address changes would have to be made? While that would be good for local printing companies, it would be a real headache for most everyone else.
The Beeline is not offensive to anyone we've heard from, as in the case of another roadway "renaming" incident in recent memory -- the Squaw Peak Parkway.
The name "Beeline" has stood the test of time. The name is part of our history and has an important place in the memories of many who have traveled the road to a summer vacation on the Rim, to see the fall colors, to cut the family Christmas tree or to have an adventure in the city.
Let's keep the name we know as the official name -- the road may not have always been known as the "Beeline," but that is what we know it as and that is what it should remain.