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Proposed Thunderwolf highway designation causes conflict in community

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image courtesy of cartographic.info.
image courtesy of cartographic.info.

A suggestion to change the name of the stretch of highway from Pueblo West to CSU-Pueblo from Cesar Chavez Memorial Highway to Thunderwolf Boulevard has caused a conflict in the Pueblo community.

Cesar Chavez Memorial Highway was named after civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, who dedicated his life to encouraging awareness and insight into unfair working conditions.

The stretch of road, which is seven miles in length, already has a variety of names, such as Colorado 47, University Boulevard and Cesar Chavez Memorial Highway. The university is looking into changing only the section of the highway that is closest to the college.

Pueblo’s Latino community argues that the highway was named after significant public figure, who fought hard to make a difference in their defense with the working conditions that were once unfair.

Pueblo leaders, including Pueblo County Commissioner Sal Pace, have said that the proposal was not intended to disrespect Latinos in Pueblo, but instead to highlight the university.

For many, the renaming would just be another act of growth from the university. Over the years, CSU-Pueblo has expanded its branding to become more well-known across Colorado and nationally.

“Pueblo is becoming more of a college town, like Fort Collins or Boulder. When people in town say ‘the college,’ everybody knows they are referring to Colorado State University-Pueblo,” said Lauren Parsons, a senior psychology major.

“I can understand the uproar from parts of the community about the name change, but I don’t see it as a big deal. As small as Pueblo is, we have pride in our university and we’re becoming a nationally known university,” she said. “If the small section of the highway was changed to ThunderWolf Boulevard, I think the majority of the community would support it and be proud.”

Zach Woods, a junior engineering major and Pueblo native, said he doesn’t think about the highway designation often.

“Although I grew up in Pueblo, I’ve always just referred to the roadway as Highway 50 or the highway. The only time I remembered when it is named Cesar Chavez is when I am driving on it and see the sign in the median over by the mall,” he said.