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Jefferson Davis Highway signs removed in Fredericksburg

Fredericksburg street crews removed a large Jefferson Davis Highway street sign that hung Mary Washington Boulevard at 11 p.m. Thursday, January 13. The street has been renamed Emancipation Highway. [Photo: Uriah Kiser/PLN]
After nearly 100 years as Jefferson Davis Highway, the name is no more.

Fredericksburg street crews removed the last remaining signs in the city showing the name of the Civil War-era president of the confederacy. The city renamed its portion of the 200-mile Virginia highway that links Washington, D.C. with North Carolina, Emancipation Highway.

Street crews began working to replace the old signs with new signs showing the street’s new name, at several key intersections, at 11 p.m. Thursday. Several street signs at multiple smaller intersections had already been replaced.

In July 2020, the Fredericksburg City Council petitioned the state’s Commonwealth Transportation Board to change the name of its portion of the highway. Later, former Stafford County Delegate Joshua Cole carried legislation requiring all jurisdictions to change the name of their respective portion of the road.

Since the 1970s, Fairfax County residents have called Route 1 “Richmond Highway.” Name changes are in the works in Prince William and Stafford counties, where the road will also soon be known as Richmond Highway.

For Fredericksburg residents and businesses, street signs aren’t the only things changing. The city will update everything from the U.S. Post Office to the 911 database with new addresses for residents and businesses in the 22401 zip code, said a city spokeswoman.

City leaders chose the new Emancipation Highway name because it “promotes our shared values of unity, equality, and a commitment to a better future for all Americans,” according to a press release.

A city spokeswoman says that changing all the signs should be complete by the end of the month. The highway was named after Jefferson Davis in the 1920s, following a post-war reconciliation period that carried over into the 20th century.

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