Legislation advanced last week that would name a stretch of Hwy. 12 after Wayzata police officer William Mathews, who was struck and killed while on duty last fall.

The Senate Transportation Committee on Wednesday approved a bill sponsored by Sens. Paul Anderson and David Osmek that proposes renaming Hwy. 12 within the Wayzata city limits "Officer Bill Mathews Memorial Highway."

Mathews was killed by an impaired and distracted driver while clearing debris from the highway last September.

Mathews, 47, worked for the Wayzata Police Department for nine years and had been a licensed peace officer since 1998. His widow and son live in Plymouth.

Wayzata Police Chief Mike Risvold said he hopes the memorial will not only honor Mathews and his family but also serve as a reminder of the dangers of impaired and distracted driving.

"It's a tight-knit community. Bill Mathews was a personable officer — everybody knew him," Risvold added. "To honor his memory is important, and we hope that it can do something and maybe save someone's life down the road."

Osmek, R-Mound, is the bill's other chief author. Risvold, Hennepin County Sheriff's Deputy Matt Hagen, Wayzata City Manager Jeff Dahl and Mayor Ken Willcox also attended the hearing with Anderson, R-Plymouth.

"Officer Mathews was one of the really good guys," Anderson said in a statement. "He was described as carrying a gun belt loaded with an olive branch and a jar of honey.

"The loss to his family is unbearable, and the impact of his death to his community is immeasurable. This bill allows us to honor a true hometown hero."

Trevor Squire is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.