The stretch of U.S. Route 1 and Virginia Route 110 that goes through Arlington, Virginia, will have its name changed from Jefferson Davis Highway to Richmond Highway as the county requested, the Commonwealth Transportation Board announced.
“While it is necessary for us to honestly discuss and interpret Virginia’s history, I feel strongly that commemorating the president of the Confederacy through the name of a major thoroughfare is not appropriate,” Gov. Ralph Northam wrote in a letter read at the meeting where the change was announced.
In March, Attorney General Mark Herring issued an opinion that the Commonwealth Transportation Board has the authority to rename the highway and doesn't need approval from the General Assembly.
State Del. Mark Levine requested Herring's opinion.
"It's 2019. It is not 1865, nor 1922, nor even 1953," Levine said. "We live in a post-Charlottesville time. And the vast majority of Northern Virginia no longer wants to honor the Confederacy or the racist legacy of Jefferson Davis."
On Jan. 1, the section of Jefferson Davis Highway through the city of Alexandria was renamed Richmond Highway to match the name the road has always carried in Fairfax County.
The county estimates it will have to spend $17,000 to pay for new street signs. County officials say the changes will be implemented by Oct. 1.
The Board also decided on Wednesday to name a bridge in Amherst County as the “Trooper Lucas B. Dowell Bridge” after the Virginia State Police trooper who was killed in the line of duty earlier this year.
“Trooper Dowell worked closely with VDOT crews in the Lynchburg District, and was a respected and committed partner within the Virginia State Police,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “With this naming, we are honored to preserve his memory and legacy of bravery and public service for generations to come.”