Pending the signature of Gov. Northam, Arlington officials will have the power to rename Lee Highway (U.S. Route 29) as they see fit within the county’s borders.
In an almost but not quite party-line vote, the state Senate voted 22-17 in support of the measure giving Arlington power over the roadway’s name. All Democrats and Sen. William Stanley (R-Glade Hill) voted to support it.
Arlington leaders object to the name because of its connection to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
The legislation, patroned by Del. Rip Sullivan (D-McLean-Arlington), earlier passed the House of Delegates on a largely party-line 58-41 vote. It applies exclusively to Arlington, not to any other jurisdiction.
Under state law, only the General Assembly or Commonwealth Transportation Board has the power to change the names of most primary roadways. Several years ago, the Commonwealth Transportation Board acceded to a request of the Arlington government to change the name of Jefferson Davis Highway (U.S. Route 1) to Richmond Highway within Arlington’s borders.
Arlington’s section of U.S. Route 29 stretches about 5 miles from Rosslyn to East Falls Church before continuing west and south to Danville, a total of 248 miles in Virginia from the Key Bridge to the North Carolina line.
Sullivan’s measure would require the Arlington government, if it changes the name, to reimburse the Virginia Department of Transportation for the cost of all new signage.