What Fairfax Co. could rename Lee Highway and Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway

Two major Virginia highways in Fairfax County named after Confederate leaders are getting closer to new names.

The county’s Board of Supervisors learned the 10 options to rename U.S. Route 29, named Lee Highway, and U.S. Route 50, named Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway.

Evelyn Spain, chair of the Confederate Names Task Force, presented the possible names for the highways.

“The names that were suggested for Lee Highway are Cardinal Highway, Route Highway 29, Langston Boulevard or highway, Lincoln-Douglass Highway or Fairfax Boulevard or highway,” Spain said in her presentation.

Potential replacements for Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway include Unity Highway, Route 50, Fairfax Boulevard, and Blue and Gray Highway.

The route number of the roads will not change regardless of what the Board of Supervisors decides to do with the name of the highways, Tom Biesiadny, with the county transportation department, confirmed.

Supervisor Pat Herrity noted the majority of those polled, 58 percent, did not want to see the names changed and asked Spain if that factored into the task force’s decision.

“We did receive an overwhelming percentage, but what we considered was, does that mean we not consider those who are offended? We, the task force, made the final decision to indicate that, yes we were going to recommend the changing of the names, but we did take into account what was shared with us,” Spain said.

Herrity, who represents the Springfield District, also expressed his concern about the cost of changing the names of the highways.

“You’ve got both significant fiscal impacts on us, but you’ve got fiscal and customer impacts on businesses and residents. We estimate our costs are between $1 to $4 million, and I hope we can get that narrowed down because it seems like a pretty big breadth,” Herrity said.

The task force considered changes to road names in bordering Loudoun and Arlington counties, both to acknowledge their work and to lessen any confusion for drivers crossing boundaries on their route, Spain said. Loudoun County voted in December to change its stretch of U.S. 50 from John Mosby Highway to Little River Turnpike.

In July 2021, Arlington County unanimously voted to rename Lee Highway to Langston Boulevard, named after abolitionist John Mercer Langston.

Residents and business owners in the county can weigh in on the suggested name changes by sending their opinions to dotconfederatenamestaskforce@fairfaxcounty.gov.

“This information will be circulated to the board so that we can put it in our newsletters and they will be looking at surveying those people directly affected along the two corridors that had been discussed here,” said Board Chair Jeffrey McKay.

The summation of that survey is expected to be presented to county leaders at a June 14 transportation committee meeting.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

Carrie Shokraei

Carrie is a writer and reporter for WTOP. She’s been in the news business for more than 20 years, starting out her career in small market TV as a reporter and anchor.

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