Mayor Eddie DeLoach called for stripping Talmadge's name from the local landmark soon after the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, where white supremacists rallying in support of Confederate statues clashed with counter-protesters.
He said the bridge should "no longer be named for a man who divided us." Talmadge, a populist Democrat, ruled Georgia politics during three terms between 1933 and 1942 with a style that mixed profanity-laced stump speeches, pocketbook populism and unabashed racism.
"But I like him in his place, and his place is at the back door with his hat in his hand." In 1941, Talmadge orchestrated the firings of college administrators suspected of supporting integration.
Georgia replaced the original Talmadge bridge in 1991 with a taller suspension bridge with plenty of headroom for cargo ships to pass underneath to reach the Port of Savannah.
Stephens said he suspects the Republican-controlled Legislature will be even less inclined to rename the Talmadge bridge so soon after Charlottesville.