Thursday, February 25, 2010

Recognizing Historic U.S. 1

When my grandparents first moved to Mt. Vernon in 1941, U.S. 1 was a hard top four-lane country highway running from Washington, D.C. to Richmond, Virginia peppered with motels along the approach to historic Mount Vernon. It is a road with a long history and it actually parallels an old Indian Trail that followed the fall line before our area was settled.

When my grandparents arrived, Fairfax County produced more dairy products than any other county in Virginia and U.S. 1 was the commercial heart of the county to the extent that there was one.

U.S. 1 is 2376 miles long, traverses 17 states, running from Fort Kent, Maine to Key West, Florida, and goes through 16 cities and counties in Virginia. It was originally named the Quebec-Miami International Highway in 1911 and then Atlantic Highway in 1915. You can read more about the history and importance of U.S. 1 to Fairfax County and the Commonwealth in the resolution I introduced this year regarding the creation of a special U.S. 1 transportation district by clicking here.

This year, Delegate Sam Nixon introduced legislation to designate part of U.S. 1 in Chesterfield County and Colonial Heights as "Historic U.S. 1" as part of an economic development project that their localities are undertaking to redevelop U.S. 1 in their communities. Tourism advocates in the City of Richmond are exploring a publicity campaign to promote the upcoming 100th anniversary of U.S. 1. The U.S. Highway system was created in 1926 to promote auto tourism and economic development.

Designating U.S. 1 is good idea not just for two counties, but for the entire Commonwealth. Therefore, I have written a letter to Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton asking him to have Governor McDonnell amend the legislation we passed to apply to the entire road and not just U.S. 1 in two jursidictions. You can see the letter here. It was signed by the 20 Delegates and 11 Senators whose districts touch U.S. 1.

Given Governor McDonnell's roots in the Mount Vernon community and the support for this idea from every legislator along the route, I am hopeful that Governor McDonnell will favorably consider our request. Recognizing U.S. 1's historic character throughout the Commonwealth will raise its visibility not just within Mount Vernon and Northern Virginia, but the entire state.

1 comment:

  1. Recently, I was visiting in Rancho Cucamonga, CA where Route 66 goes through the modern commercial city. They had some very nice markers and signs showing that the historic highway runs through there. I thought it was a great idea, otherwise I would have never known it was Route 66. I can get some pictures for you next month when i go back.