Arlington County Board Votes to Rename Jefferson Davis Highway

Arlington County is asking a state transportation board to rename Jefferson Davis Highway.

As expected, the Arlington County Board voted last night to approve a resolution asking that Jefferson Davis Highway, also known as Route 1, be renamed Richmond Highway within Arlington’s borders.

In doing so the Board is following the lead of Alexandria, which last year also voted to change the name.

The unanimous vote was framed in a county press release as a move that will make driving on Route 1 through Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax County — which also uses the Richmond Highway name — less confusing for motorists.

The costs and disruption, according to the county, would be minimal.

“Arlington would pay for the new street signs (estimated to cost about $17,000),” says the press release. “No street numbers will be changed, and the United States Postal Service will, in perpetuity, continue to deliver mail to the businesses and residences along the highway addressed to Jefferson Davis Highway.”

Google Maps, meanwhile, already renamed Route 1 “Richmond Highway” in Arlington a few months ago.

More from the press release, after the jump.

The Arlington County Board on Thursday, April 25, voted unanimously to approve a resolution asking that the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB), rename the 2.56-mile portion of Jefferson Davis Highway that lies within the County’s borders “Richmond Highway.”

The move comes after the City of Alexandria changed the name of the roadway within its borders, effective January 1, 2019.

“Arlington has long sought to rename the stretch of Jefferson Davis Highway that runs through our County,” Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey said. “For several years, we have included renaming the highway within our boundaries in our state Legislative Package. We participated in Alexandria’s ad hoc commission that recommended in 2018 that the City rename its portion of the highway ‘Richmond Highway.’ We said then we hoped to be able to soon follow suit.

“Renaming our portion of the highway will make it easier for drivers heading from Fairfax County through the City of Alexandria and then Arlington should be traveling on a highway that bears one name,” Dorsey said. Dorsey noted that, should the CTB elect to rename the roadway “Richmond Boulevard,” the County would also welcome that name.

In its resolution, the Board said that if the CTB approves the name change at its May meeting, it would take effect no later than Oct. 1, 2019. Arlington would pay for the new street signs (estimated to cost about $17,000). No street numbers will be changed, and the United States Postal Service will, in perpetuity, continue to deliver mail to the businesses and residences along the highway addressed to Jefferson Davis Highway.

The Board voted unanimously to adopt the resolution. To read the resolution and view the Chair’s presentation on this item, visit the County website. Scroll to Item No. 45 on the agenda for the Thursday, April 25, 2019 Recessed County Board Meeting.

Public outreach

The County mailed postcards to the residences, property owners and businesses along the portion of the highway that lies within Arlington, informing them of the Board’s intent, and providing information about the April 25, 2019 public hearing before the Board on the proposed resolution.

If the CTB approves the name change, the County will post answers to frequently asked questions, including information on what, if any, records need to be changed by businesses or residents, on the County website: keyword search “Jefferson Davis Highway.” The County will continue its outreach to the community through a variety of avenues, to ensure a smooth transition.


The Virginia General Assembly, in 1922, named the roadway known as Route 1 in the federal highway system “Jefferson Davis Highway” in honor of the president of the Confederacy.  Before 2012, State law expressly prohibited the CTB from renaming highways, bridges, or interchanges that were named by the General Assembly. In 2012, the General Assembly changed the statute, granting the CTB the authority to change the name of a primary highway, such as Jefferson Davis Highway, originally named by the General Assembly.

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