Renaming Route 29 in Arlington

The County Manager’s Office has issued internal guidance to all departments to advance with completion of all functional roadway renaming by March 14, 2022. The first major County rebranding under the new name is complete, with the updates to the Plan Langston Boulevard Process. The second major County-led effort will be replacement of local roadway signage (i.e. signs along Route-29/Langston Boulevard, but not yet to include I-66 highway directional signage). Signs are currently being installed (as of October 16, 2021). Signs will be installed as quickly as schedules allow to minimize any time that both names are visible.

Residents and businesses should expect communication material from the County soon, including a postcard mailer(PDF, 313KB) giving notice of the anticipated changes. We are actively working with the USPS to provide them an updated listing of all impacted addresses. Street numbers should not change and mail will continue to be delivered to both “Lee Hwy.” and “Langston Blvd.”

For now, residents and businesses do not need to take any actions with respect to County records and accounts.

We advise that if anyone has specific questions about a file you have on record with an outside organization or agency, that you may wish to contact them directly.

As additional work is planned that may impact residents, businesses, and visitors, we will continue to provide updates through the website and other communications channels.

This is a general reminder that the changes referenced pertain only to Route 29. Route 309/”Lee Highway”/”Old Lee Highway” will be renamed by future action of the County Board, likely no sooner than November. That action will also require Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) final approval.

 

Graphic Illustrating the Renaming as Adopted (Route 29) and further Proposed (Route 309):

graphic map showing Route 29 renaming limits

What Residents and Businesses Should Do

See the questions below –however, no action is necessary at this time (September 22, 2021). 

On July 17, 2021 the County Board voted to officially rename U.S. Route 29 to Langston Boulevard within the boundaries of Arlington County between North Lynn Street to the western border of Arlington County with the City of Falls Church. The renaming of Route 29, known as Lee Highway throughout the County, comes after the then Lee Highway Alliance (LHA) now Langston Boulevard Alliance (LBA) working group of residents and business owners underwent an effort to determine a name that better reflects Arlington County’s values, promotes equity, and is welcoming to all people who work on, live on, and/or visit the corridor. View the staff report for this item here.

The Arlington County Board has acted to rename the highway, but the names “Route 29” and “Lee Highway” may still be used until final operational changes to the road are made. Signage is tentatively scheduled for installation along Route 29 no sooner than mid-October 2021.

In consideration of the naming, the LHA Working Group created an objective set of evaluation criteria to ensure that the public process of selecting a name was transparent, inclusive, and reflected a commitment to the values of public engagement in Arlington. With the new name of Langston Boulevard, costs for new signage are estimated at $300,000, subject to final design and determination by VDOT (Virginia Department of Transportation).

While the legal name change is now complete, the functional operations (signage, addressing, etc.) of the roadway will be transitioned over a period of time. March 14, 2022 is our operational deadline to transition to “Langston Boulevard,” to allow adequate time for residents and businesses to take necessary steps for changing individual addressing at their properties.

In addition, the County Board will consider a new name for Route 309, “Lee Highway” or “Old Lee Highway.” The community intends to bring their recommended choice for renaming that segment of roadway to the County Board and staff in the Fall (2021). Further action will be necessary, following recommendation to the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) who holds the authority for renaming this state-controlled road.

This website will be updated frequently with more information and we will continue outreach to stakeholders along the corridor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Arlington County changing the name?

  • John M. Langston was an American abolitionist, attorney, educator, activist, diplomat, and politician who was the first Black person elected to Congress from Virginia. His ties to Arlington date back to 1867 when he was the Inspector General of the Freedman’s Bureau, the managing agency over Freedman’s Village, which was the contraband camp for formerly enslaved people in Arlington. Lee Highway also runs right past the former site of the segregated John M. Langston Elementary School. As quoted by Working Group Member, Saundra Green, “The name Langston has had an incredible impact on the lives of so many African American children who grew up along [and nearby] the Lee Highway corridor…The name tells the story of the dark [racial] history of Arlington County as well as the County’s brightest time – when the four students who went to Langston Elementary were the first four students to integrate the Commonwealth of Virginia. The name tells the whole story of how Arlington has evolved and grown over the years.”
  •  [Updated 7/23/2021] Further, the word “Highway” does not convey an attractive place that is consistent with the Main Street envisioned by the thousands of residents, property owners, and businesses that have already weighed in during the Visioning Study and the Plan Langston Boulevard Process. Feedback suggests “Highway” conveyed an automobile-focused transportation thoroughfare, whereas “Boulevard” better invokes a sense of place and community identity.

(Updated 09/22/2021) When will signage change?

No sooner than mid-October, 2021. Replacement of local roadway signage (i.e. signs along Route-29/Langston Boulevard, but not yet to include I-66 highway directional signage).  Once work begins, signs will be installed as quickly as schedules allow to minimize any time that both names are visible.

Will my street number change?

County staff is evaluating the renaming proposal for both Route 29 and Route 309. At this time, we believe no street numbers will be changed. Our intent is that the only change will be to the street name itself — no other portion of the address will change. 

How will the name change impact mail and delivery services?

  • Postal Service: The name change will have no impact on mail services through the United States Postal Service (USPS). You do not have to contact USPS to file a change of address form — Arlington County will notify USPS directly and their Address Management System will be updated. As of June 2021, it is our understanding and expectation that USPS mail addressed to both “Langston Boulevard” and “Lee Highway” addresses in Arlington will continue to be delivered in perpetuity. 
  • Other Delivery Services: The name change will be reflected in the address management systems for major delivery services such as FedEx and UPS.
  • Navigation Apps: Mobile applications such as Apple Maps, Google Maps, Waze, Mapquest (and the applications that use them) gather data from multiple sources, including local governments. As such, Arlington County’s update in our Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data should then be reflected in these other applications. To assist in a smooth transition, Arlington County will notify the major mapping firms as soon as possible.
  •  [Updated 7/27/2021] – As of July 26, 2021, we were informed that Google Maps has updated the road names, but that errors still exist. We’ve reported these errors to Google. Private mapping services manage their data separately, and the County is somewhat limited in our ability to impact those decisions. We will continue to work with Google and others, as possible, to accurately depict the changes to the road names.

How will the name change impact public safety?

  • The proposed name change will have no impact on the provision of fire, emergency and medical services. The County dispatch systems will be updated to reflect any name change. 

How will the name change impact County records and accounts, like CAPP and Real Property records?

  • The proposed name change will have no impact on County records, accounts or property deeds. All impacted addresses will be updated in the County records system to reflect the name change. 

Will the name change impact any state or federal records, or require action by businesses, residents or ownership associations with agencies such as the DMV?

  • Our understanding is that state records generally will not be impacted by the changes.
  • Our guidance is that address records on file with state or federal agencies should be updated when it is convenient to do so (e.g. upon refiling or at renewal periods).
  • Residents, businesses, or other ownership associations may need to submit updated address information to agencies if the address on file will be changing due to the name change in the road.
  • If you have specific questions about a file you have on record, please contact the relevant agency for that record.
  • This information is not comprehensive and may not apply to each situation. You may also choose to seek legal advice in regard to your particular situation or questions.

If I am selling my house or property, do I have to update the deed and other land records prior to selling?

  •  No, the proposed name change will have no impact on County records, accounts or property deeds. All impacted addresses will be updated in the County records system to reflect the name change.

How much will the renaming cost taxpayers?

  • Under State law, all costs associated with producing, placing and maintaining new street signage are borne by the locality. Arlington estimates the cost of the renaming to be up to $300,000. 

What is happening with Route 309/”Lee Highway”/”Old Lee Highway”?

  • The County Board deferred until September 2021 consideration of a new name for Route 309, “Lee Highway” or “Old Lee Highway.” The community intends to bring their recommended choice for renaming that segment of roadway to the County Board and staff in the Fall (2021). Further action will be necessary, following recommendation to the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) who holds the authority for renaming this state-controlled road.