AG advisory opinion paves way for name change for Jefferson Davis Highway in Arlington

Attorney General Mark Herring published an official advisory opinion today stating that the Commonwealth Transportation Board has legal authority to change the name of Jefferson Davis Highway in Arlington County, provided that the Arlington County Board passes a resolution requesting such a change.

The Attorney General’s opinion, in response to a formal request from Del. Mark Levine (D-45th District), certifies the legal analysis of Del. Levine, who maintained, contrary to earlier informal advice issued by a member of Herring’s office, that Arlington and the CTB did in fact have authority to change the name without further General Assembly approval.

“I want to thank the Attorney General for issuing this official opinion that concurs with my long-held legal analysis,” said Levine. “I know the Arlington County Board strongly supports the name change, but its members had expressed concern about the legal ramifications of doing so without going through the General Assembly. This formal Attorney General opinion officially lays those concerns to rest. Route One runs through the heart of my district, but its current name does not reflect the hearts of the people of Arlington and Alexandria I’m proud to represent. It’s 2019. The vast majority of Northern Virginians no longer wants to honor the Confederacy or Jefferson Davis.”

The official Attorney General opinion, addressed in a letter to Del. Levine, clarifies that a 2012 Virginia statute removed the legal barrier by which the CTB, prior to 2012, could not change highway names formerly designated by the General Assembly.

“The deletion of this language in 2012 demonstrates a clear legislative intent to empower the CTB to rename transportation facilities that were originally named by the General Assembly,” the Attorney General writes, indicating his agreement with Delegate Levine’s interpretation of the law. “Accordingly,” the letter concludes, “it is my opinion that the Commonwealth Transportation Board may change the name of those portions of Jefferson Davis Highway located in Arlington County, provided that its Board [] adopts a resolution requesting the renaming.”

The Arlington County Board could pass such a resolution as early as its next meeting on April 23. The measure would then go before the CTB, whose members are appointed by the Governor of Virginia. If all goes well, Arlington street signs could be changed as early as this summer.

The highway, known by locals as “Route One” (its designation in the US Highway System) enters Virginia in Arlington and passes through Alexandria and Fairfax down to Richmond and points further south. Although the Virginia General Assembly in 1922 designated the entirety of the highway as “Jefferson Davis Highway,” the road has at least 18 different local names as it wends its way from the District of Columbia to the North Carolina border. Arlington would most likely rename the road “Richmond Highway,” the name long used in Fairfax County and the name which the City of Alexandria adopted just last year to replace “Jefferson Davis Highway.”

Jefferson Davis, the Mississippi senator and slaveowner who became president of the Confederate States of America, had no significant ties to Northern Virginia. But the Virginia General Assembly’s 1922 law nevertheless praised Davis’s service to the Confederacy and issued the statewide designation in response to a request by the United Daughters of the Confederacy to build a Southern transcontinental highway in Davis’s honor. Davis was indicted for treason against the United States in 1865. He was pardoned in 1868 and never tried.

uva basketball team of destiny

Team of Destiny: Inside UVA Basketball's improbable run

Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25.

The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.

augusta free press


Augusta Free Press content is available for free, as it has been since 2002, save for a disastrous one-month experiment at putting some content behind a pay wall back in 2009. (We won’t ever try that again. Almost killed us!) That said, it’s free to read, but it still costs us money to produce. The site is updated several times a day, every day, 365 days a year, 366 days on the leap year. (Stuff still happens on Christmas Day, is what we’re saying there.) AFP does well in drawing advertisers, but who couldn’t use an additional source of revenue? From time to time, readers ask us how they can support us, and we usually say, keep reading. Now we’re saying, you can drop us a few bucks, if you’re so inclined.

augusta free press
augusta free press news