Loudoun Board Launches Effort to Rename Rt. 7, Rt. 50

Loudoun County supervisors have launched a more than yearlong process to rename Rt. 7 and Rt. 50 where they are named for segregationist and Confederate figures—Harry Byrd, a lawmaker best known for leading “massive resistance” to integration in Virginia, and Confederate cavalry commander John Mosby.

With supervisors largely agreeing that the names need to go, debate at their May 18meeting centered largely on who should come up with new ones, how long that should take, and how much it should cost. The county board targeted the end of the year for selecting new names to send to the Commonwealth Transportation Board, which has the final say-so on renaming the roads.

The board will get options for new names from a task force made up of seven members sent by the county’s Heritage Commission and one appointee from each of the nine county supervisors, after a period of public input. Even that timeline is accelerated from the one originally estimated by county staff members, which wouldn’t have seen the Board of Supervisors picking new names until February or March of 2022. Replacing the signs is also expected to take some time, up to year.

Supervisor Koran T. Saines (D-Sterling) had pushed for an even swifter timeline, which would have seen the Heritage Commission offering new options for names within 90 days.

“With all due respect, I don’t think we need to take almost a year to go through this process to come up with these names and come back to us,” Saines said.

But county staff members said that timeline wasn’t feasible, considering public notice requirements and other largely behind-the-scenes work. And Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles), whose district includes the easternmost part of Rt. 50 in Loudoun, said his constituents would not be adequately represented by the Heritage Commission.

He also worried about the costs to businesses when their street address changes.

“For those businesses that have invested thousands of dollars in signage and legal documents and business cards, its painted on their trucks, it’s everywhere,” Letourneau said. “This is a big deal, a very big deal. It’s expensive.”

The cost of replacing the signs, according to preliminary estimates, is about $708,000. But the county is working with a character limit; if the new names are longer and require larger signs than the old ones, according to a county staff report, it could cost more than three times as much to replace them, about $3.3 million.

“There is no question that this is going to create a lot of turmoil, there’s no question that it’s inconvenient, there is no question that it’s an expense, but frankly, there’s no question that when one of these is named after a member of the KKK [Byrd] and a notorious segregationist, and the other one is named after a guy who was engaged in treason, I’m sorry[…] I think this is absolutely necessary,” said Supervisor Michael R. Turner (D-Ashburn).

County Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) said she was surprised how recently the roads got those names—in the case of Rt. 50, the General Assembly named the road John Mosby Highway in 1982.

The county will now solicit applications for the nine board appointees to the sign task force, with nominations expected at the June 15 board meeting.

Supervisors voted 8-0-1, with Supervisor Caleb A. Kershner (R-Catoctin) absent.

The work comes as part of a larger project to inventory segregationist and racist symbols across the county.

15 thoughts on “Loudoun Board Launches Effort to Rename Rt. 7, Rt. 50

  • 2021-05-21 at 3:27 pm

    A colossal waste of taxpayer money. I can hardly wait to vote these fools out of office.

  • 2021-05-21 at 3:38 pm

    When do the historical markers come down, and history books in the libraries burned?

    • 2021-05-22 at 5:49 am

      No kidding. You start removing history you end up repeating it. The one thing we learn about history is that we don’t learn anything from our history.

  • 2021-05-21 at 5:02 pm

    Prove you are serious! We should demand that the board renames Loudoun County and Leesburg since both are named after slaveholders!

    Oh, and rename White’s Ferry and their boat, the Jubal Early, too!

  • 2021-05-21 at 5:37 pm

    A waste of time and taxpayer money. Nothing new with our Loudoun BOS.

    Stop cleansing our history.

    I wonder if Randall is planning on changing the name of our county?

    John Campbell, the fourth earl of Loudoun, is who our county was named after.

    Did the BOS’s forget that he had 13 slaves at the time of his death??

  • 2021-05-21 at 7:33 pm

    If the County BoS changes the names then the county should pay all costs for every business that has to re-wicker their signage, business cards, etc. Who is going to reimburse the USPS to change their software to recognize the new street names?
    How about just taking the names down and leaving the road numbers and be done with it?
    I like the approach a Wisconsin politician has about Fort Bragg. Braxton Bragg has a cousin who was a general in the Union Army so the cousin’s name, also Bragg has been offered up as choice. Saves a ton of money. Find another Byrd and Mosby whose pedigrees are satisfactory and go with that.
    It’s called history for a reason. I would submit to you that if you take a critical deep dive of Malcolm X’s life, the average person on the street would be hard pressed to name anything after him but many things have been but that’s why it’s called history. The events happened and no matter how many signs you take down, books you ban or authors you silence, it still happened.

  • 2021-05-21 at 9:52 pm

    This is the kind of nonsense these politicians waste their time and our money on. When will this ridiculousness end, at a massive book burning?

  • 2021-05-22 at 5:47 am

    Is this really what we’ve elected the board to do? I understand history can be offensive, but this is a waste of MY taxes. Focus on economic development, better roads and schools. So disappointed and frustrated that these “leaders” find this more important than what they were elected to do..

    • 2021-05-22 at 5:53 am

      I mean, do people really refer to these highways as “Harry Flood Byrd” Highway and “John Mosby” highway? I call them Rt 7 and Rt 50 and so does EVERYONE else. Are these highway NUMBERS offensive? Dear lands.. These people are wasting our time and money..

  • 2021-05-22 at 10:31 am

    These clowns continue to find ways to waste time and money doing trivial things.
    No one’s life is improved by changing the names of these roads.
    The demands of the perpetually offended will never be satisfied.
    Many are inconvenienced and financially impacted in order to change signage, advertising, mail so that some hypersensitive losers can fell better about themselves.

  • 2021-05-22 at 1:54 pm

    Perhaps the County Board might succeed in building adequate affordable housing in Loudoun, which seems always to be sacrificed to placate others.

    That might give the Board a bit more “cred” in their “standing up” to right historic wrongs in this area.

  • 2021-05-22 at 3:58 pm

    Rename it what ever you want but can we stop using tax payers money for it. Can we get Amazon, CACI, United or any other large company in Loundoun to put their name behind the change. MLK Hwy brought to you by JK Moving.

  • 2021-05-23 at 12:20 am

    What a waste of time, money, and just kicking people when they’re down.

    I might be for this is we weren’t just coming out of a pandemic that crushed so many economically. Our local government should not be wasting money on this right now, more should they be burdening people with trivial changes like this.

  • 2021-05-24 at 5:36 pm

    Meanwhile these two man they hate had outstanding careers in public service maybe there is a jealousy?

  • 2021-05-25 at 3:38 pm

    Harry Byrd was a Democrat, like almost every segregationist.

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