Arts and Culture

Prince highway honor is one step closer to passage at the Capitol 

Prince onstage
Prince performs the song "Purple Rain" at the 46th annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 2004 in Los Angeles.
Frank Micelotta | Getty Images 2004

A three-year campaign to name a stretch of Minnesota Highway 5 in Chanhassen after Prince is nearing the finish line at the Capitol. 

The House Transportation Finance and Policy Committee on Thursday approved a bill to officially designate Highway 5 in Chanhassen as the Prince Rogers Nelson Memorial Highway, to honor the Minnesota music icon. 

Prince died in April 2016, and the memorial designation would include the stretch of highway that runs in front of his home and studio, Paisley Park, where he died of an overdose.

“He was not only a prolific artist, he was a humanitarian and a philanthropist — and so in that spirit I think it makes a lot of sense for us to name the highway that leads up to Paisley Park to Prince Rogers Nelson Memorial Highway,” Rep. Lucy Rehm, DFL-Chanhassen, told the committee. 

a woman speaks
Chanhassen DFL Rep. Lucy Rehm showed lawmakers a mockup of the special Prince memorial highway marker that her bill may authorize — an exception from the standard green memorial signs. Purple was the late musician's signature color.
MN House Video via Youtube

The idea has been floating around the Capitol for a while, and faced an administrative hurdle: The highway had already been named after someone else — a former Minnesota House member, no less. 

August “Augie” Mueller died in 1996, at age 91. A cattle farmer, he served in the Minnesota House from before World War II until 1972, as chair of the Highways Committee for much of the 1960s. He was a cattle rancher and also lived along the highway, near the town of Arlington, between Belle Plaine and Gaylord. 

An amendment approved by the committee on Thursday morning stopped Mueller’s designation at the city limits of Chanhassen, Prince’s adopted hometown. 

Backers urged lawmakers to consider making all of the road west of Interstate 494 to Audubon Road, which abuts Paisley Park, a Prince memorial. That would be a 7-mile stretch. 

“We know Prince, in his music … talked about the number seven. Prince also was born on the seventh, you have seven siblings. This is just a number that we... thought would be good for the fans to have,” supporter Mark Webster told the committee. 

Committee members, both GOP and DFL, voted in an unopposed voice vote to move the bill on to the House Ways and Means Committee — followed by a brief celebratory strain of the opening of Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” played over the public address system.  

A companion bill is already awaiting a floor vote in the Minnesota Senate. 

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