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Alexandria City Council votes to change Jefferson Davis Highway to Richmond Highway

ABC7

The Alexandria City Council unanimously voted Saturday to rename Jefferson Davis Highway to Richmond Highway.

Usually a name change doesn’t take three years of public input, but that’s how long it took to change the name of the controversial road in Alexandria. City staff estimates it will cost about $27,000 to replace 10 street signs.

Every work day Amanda Mitchell walks into 2000 Jefferson Davis Highway in Alexandria. But starting January 1, “Your Dog’s Best Friends” pet daycare and more than a dozen other businesses will need to update their addresses.

“It wouldn’t be hard to change,” Mitchell said.

The council voted 6-0 to approve an ordinance renaming Jefferson Davis Highway to Richmond Highway effective in about six months.

“It speaks to who we are. That we are a city of kindness and compassion, a city where we’re not just tolerant but embracing and accepting where diversity is a core value,” Mayor Allison Silberberg said.

The movement to rename the road named after the president of the Confederacy started in 2015.

“It’s offensive. It’s offensive to those moving in, those who have been here. So, it’s time for a change,” Mitchell said.

After thousands of new name suggestions and hundreds of comments over three years, an advisory group chose Richmond Highway, leaving behind the Civil War-era name.

“I think now in 2018 we can move forward. This is a very modern city committed to inclusiveness,” said Silberberg.

“Hopefully when it does change people will be aware of how offensive it is because it’s built on slavery. We’re trying to move past the racial barriers of everything. Maybe this can be a start,” Mitchell said.

The following took place leading up to the change:

  • In 2015, City Council established an Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Confederate Memorials and Street Names. Based on five public meetings and hearings and hundreds of in-person and written comments, the group recommended changing the name of Jefferson Davis Highway.
  • After a public hearing in 2016, City Council voted unanimously to direct the City Manager to begin the renaming process.
  • In 2017, the City Manager appointed an Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Renaming Jefferson Davis Highway, to solicit public feedback and consider potential new names. After holding a public hearing and conducting an online survey, this group unanimously recommended Richmond Highway as the new name.
  • City Council adopted the recommendation following initial discussion on May 8, written notice to affected residents and businesses, and a final public hearing on June 23.

Click here for more on how the name change came about.

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