The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to accept the recommended roadway names for Route 7 and Route 50, also known as Harry Byrd Highway and John Mosby Highway, respectively, returning them to their original names of Leesburg Pike and Little River Turnpike.
A task force, composed of representatives from throughout the community, narrowed down the list of submissions before the board voted on the change. Vice Chairman Koran Saines (D-Sterling) brought the matter to the board in September 2020 due to the history of the two men’ support of racism.
The board voted 8-0-1 on consent. Supervisor Tony Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) was absent for the vote.
“Thank you to all my colleagues for getting to this day and voting unanimously to change these names back to the original names because their temporary names should not have happened,” Saines said Tuesday.
Route 7 extends across the entire county and connects with Clarke County to the west and Fairfax County to the east. Harry F. Byrd Sr. was the governor of Virginia from 1926 to 1930 and a U.S. senator from 1933 to 1965. A supporter of Virginia’s highway system, he was an opponent of desegregating schools. The State Highway Commission named Route 7 in memory of Byrd on November 21, 1968.
Route 50 also spans the entire county, connecting with Fauquier County to the west and Fairfax County to the east with portions of it weaving in and out of Fauquier County. The road is named John S. Mosby Highway in Fauquier County. Route 50 in Fairfax County, immediately adjacent to Loudoun, is named Lee Jackson Memorial Highway. The General Assembly named Route 50 in memory of John Singleton Mosby, a colonel in the Confederate Army, on April 1, 1982.
Supervisor Juli Briskman (D-Algonkian) commended Saines for his action to rename the roadways despite receiving pushback following the board’s actions.
“We have gotten emails about that — many of the emails saying ‘why are you spending taxpayer dollars on renaming roads, don’t we have a number of other priorities,’ and my response to that is taxpayer dollars were used during Jim Crow, during the 60s all the way into the 80s to name these roads after these folks, who in my opinion, didn’t deserve it,” Briskman said.
“They were renamed as a way to remind citizens of our county of their oppression and that maybe certain citizens don’t belong,” she said. “So, I’m very happy and proud that we are using some of our resources to rectify that situation.”
Supervisor Sylvia Glass (D-Broad Run) and Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) said they were pleased with the support for renaming the roads. Randall said the cost impacting businesses on Route 50 will be addressed. The board directed staff to develop a grant program to reimburse business owners for expenses.
Last month, the board voted unanimously on several measures to address, change or prohibit the current and future naming of county roads after Confederate or segregationist figures or symbols or slogans.
Briskman brought the initiative forward in September 2020.
Loudoun County is in the process of renaming Jeb Stuart Road and Fort Johnston Road, according to a Nov. 10 release states.
Jeb Stuart Road, located in the Philomont area, has referenced Confederate General James Ewell Brown “Jeb” Stuart since 1962. Fort Johnston Road, just west of the Town of Leesburg, references a Civil War-era fort named for Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston.
The county is also engaged with the Town of Round Hill in a coordinated effort to rename streets identified in the inventory that are located within the Hillwood Estates subdivision, since the roads fall outside of Loudoun’s jurisdiction.