Alexandria strips Confederate president’s name from highway

WASHINGTON — The Alexandria City Council voted unanimously to take the name Jefferson Davis off the stretch of Route 1 that runs north of Old Town; Jefferson Davis was the president of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War.

The council decided to rename the road Richmond Highway instead, partly because that’s already the name of the road south of Old Town (where it’s divided and known as Patrick and Henry Streets) as it winds through Fairfax County.

The name change will go into effect on January 1, 2019.

“It has been a very long process,” noted Mayor Allison Silberberg.

The final vote on the matter was quiet and uneventful considering the number of meetings held throughout the city as local governments began re-examining the use of confederate names on area roads.

Only one resident spoke out in opposition of the change to Richmond Highway. But Richard Merrit wasn’t arguing on behalf of Davis, rather, he was pushing the city council to name the road after anyone else you could consider an “Alexandrian, or a great American living or deceased, whose life and character exemplifies our city’s values.”

While there was some sentiment on the council that seemed to agree, Councilman John Chapman also admitted “it would have been much simpler if we had, as a community, in our minds who that one person should be.”

Councilman Tim Lovain, who serves on a committee that looks at street names said Richmond Highway made the most sense right now by virtue it’s named after the state capitol.

“We will have more opportunities to recognize great Alexandrians and great Americans in our name,” said Lovain. “Maybe we could look at some of those Confederate general streets.”

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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