People prefer numbers over names of confederates in renaming two highways in Fairfax Co., survey says

A survey showed that businesses and community members in Fairfax County, Virginia, prefer to rename Lee and Lee-Jackson Memorial highways after the roads’ numbers.

Lawmakers want to rename the highways because they are currently named after Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.

The county’s History Commission did an inventory of Confederate street names and submitted a report in 2020.

Last July, the Board of Supervisors created the Confederate Names Task Force to assess the names of Lee Highway and Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway. The task force recommended changing the names of both roads.

Following the recommendation, the supervisors had staff members reach out to residents and businesses in that area for their thoughts on the name change.

Staff received a total of 137 responses. A quarter came from residents and businesses along the Route 50 corridor, and 74% from residents and businesses along the Route 29 corridor. Most of those responding said changing the name would cost them financially and preferred using the roadways’ route numbers.

Chairman Jeffrey McKay acknowledged that the survey was small, but expressed interest in the change.

“I know this is a small sample set, but frankly, people already refer to these by their route numbers today, so it would be a less dramatic change in terms of lifestyle marketing, the daily lives of people who live and work in these two corridors,” McKay said.

Supervisor Dalia Palchik was also open to the idea but highlighted the need to decrease any possible confusion.

“I think anything we do should definitely look at the top responses that we got– top one, two, or three responses. Also, anything that can help mitigate but definitely not increase the confusion of different route numbers shifting in different names,” Palchik said.

The new signage could cost the county anywhere between $1 million and $4.2 million.

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