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Replacement of Lee, Lee-Jackson highway street signs underway

The small blue corner signs for Lee Highway and Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway are being replaced (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Officially, Fairfax County doesn’t have a Lee Highway or Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway anymore, but months after the names were dropped, they can still be seen on street signs throughout both corridors.

By the end of this month, that should no longer be the case — at least for smaller signs, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation says. A contractor is replacing the small blue signs at street corners with ones identifying the roadways as Route 29 and Route 50, respectively.

“This work is underway, and we anticipate this work to be complete by the end of November,” FCDOT Head of Communications Freddy Serrano told FFXnow.

The process of replacing larger, overhead directional signs, however, isn’t expected to begin until next year.

Getting those signs made and installed will be the Virginia Department of Transportation’s responsibility, though the county is covering all of the costs. A VDOT spokesperson says the department hopes to finalize an agreement with a contractor by the end of this year.

“It will involve 110 signs and it should take about two years to complete from the start of the contract that is anticipated to start in Jan. 2024,” VDOT said by email.

According to Serrano, a preliminary schedule from VDOT estimates that the overhead sign replacements will be finished by the end of 2025.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted on Sept. 13, 2022 to stop referring to routes 29 and 50 as Lee and Lee-Jackson Memorial, names adopted in the early 20th century as nods to Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.

Instead of giving the roadways entirely new names, as Arlington County did with its Route 29 segment in 2021, the board opted to use the route numbers to reduce confusion and the cost of new street signs. FCDOT staff previously said changing the signs would be more challenging for longer names.

At the time of the vote, county staff estimated that the sign updates would cost about $1.4 million. It cost about $46,000 for FCDOT’s contractor to fabricate and install the corner street signs, according to Serrano.

“Most of the costs of the sign replacement will be VDOT’s replacement of the larger overhead signs,” he said. “FCDOT will not have an updated cost estimate for that portion of the sign replacement until VDOT begins their preliminary design.”

County staff estimated it would take another $1.5 million to fund grants to help affected property owners cover expenses for updating business licenses, land records and other documents, as recommended by the Confederate Names Task Force that reviewed the proposed renamings.

On its website, FCDOT says the county “is developing” a financial assistance program, but Serrano confirmed to FFXnow that “the proposed grant program for businesses has not been approved at this time.”

The county updated addresses in its records to reflect the name changes, including for property taxes and voter registrations, on July 5.

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