While passage may be likely, it could still be a few weeks until Arlington officials know whether they will gain the power to rename Lee Highway (U.S. Route 29) within the county’s boundaries.
Arlington leaders object to the name because of its connection to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Legislation patroned by Del. Rip Sullivan (D-McLean-Arlington) to give the county government authority to change the name passed the House of Delegates 58-41. The state Senate will address the issue during the special session called by Gov. Ralph Northam.
The special session will add about two weeks back to the legislative calendar this winter, after Republicans used procedural maneuvers to cut it from the normal 46 days to the minimum 30 days mandated in the state constitution.
Under state law, only the General Assembly or Commonwealth Transportation Board has the power to change the names of most primary roads. Several years ago, the 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.
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.
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.
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