A bill to rename “Jefferson Davis Highway” on U.S. Route 1 to “Emancipation Highway” passed the Virginia Senate Thursday in a 30-9 vote.
The bill, which Del. Josh Cole (D-Fredericksburg) introduced, was approved by the Virginia House of Delegates by a 70-28 vote this month.
The legislation will be headed to Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D) desk for his signature, after which it will become law effective January 1, 2022.
But even after the Senate vote, it remains unclear if the affected localities of Fredericksburg will rename U.S. 1 within their borders.
The bill only applies to areas in the state where U.S. 1 is still named after former Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
Counties and cities have until January 1, 2022, to change the name of Jefferson Davis Highway to whatever they choose or the state will automatically rename it Emancipation Highway.
“Change the name on your own, or the General Assembly will change it for you,” Cole said to House committee members.
The changes to the road signs are estimated to cost nearly $600,000 for all the localities.
The United Daughters of the Confederacy came up with the name for Jefferson Davis Highway in 1913, according to a fact sheet from the Federal Highway Administration.
Davis was a Mississippi senator who assumed the presidency of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War.
The Virginia General Assembly renamed U.S. Route 1 Jefferson Davis Highway in 1922.