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Where the Streets Have New Names

After the mass shooting at a Charleston, South Carolina church, there’s been a lot of discussion about the necessity of Confederacy memorabilia in this country. Should the Confederate flag fly alongside state flags, or our country’s stripes? Should school children be dismissed after donning Confederate wear in class? Should we eliminate the license plates that pay homage to Confederate forefathers?

Those are questions that some believe they’ve found an answer for, albeit controversial. Those are questions which will plague us in the coming months, years, decades. Those are questions we’re not going to talk about here.

Let’s talk about money, because that’s something we can all agree on. Right?

There’s a proposal in Alexandria, Va. that would allow for the renaming of street names related to Confederate-era America. According to the Washington Business Journal, the city has in excess of 30 streets named for generals, chiefs, majors, and other important actors that are — in this town — as famous now as they were more than 150 years ago.

If you’re being objective and looking at this from an economic point of view, you should realize something immediately.

Each of these streets span at least one city block. The majority span multiple blocks. Roads like Jefferson Davis Highway (US Rt. 1) span many miles. The cost factor that would require the replacement and renaming of these signs would place an incredible economic burden on Alexandria and the surrounding areas, if they follow suit.

Hypothetically, let’s say it would cost $120 to replace one street sign. That’s taking into account the labor and material costs involved. Multiply that by 45, an average of times a single street sign might be used.

Changing this map could become a reality if a proposal is seriously considered in Alexandria, Va.

That’s $5,400.

Multiplying that figure by 30 would equate to $162,000.

Of course one street alone — Jefferson Davis Hwy. — would cost that much money because it is a major vein route through the region. Same with Van Dorn St., an important connector road between Old Town Alexandria and the commercial district.

We’re talking a lot of money. And I’m going to go out on a limb and say that’s a lot of money these localities do not have. I would find it strange if a local government has a Renaming Streets budget.

Now I get it — I’m being unfair those those who might say history is history and we shouldn’t be commending these people in today’s society because of what they stood for.

Point taken.

Should this be our priority, though? If a town so rich in history as Alexandria does move forward with such a proposal, who’s next? Think about your locality. If you live in Virginia, there’s a good chance you drive on or have driven on a street named after a Confederate fighter. Take the $162,000 (conservative figure) and multiple that by 100 towns. That’s $16.2 million.

We have much more important transportation and infrastructure issues to take into account. Renaming streets isn’t one of them.

You decide. Should we change Confederate-named streets in towns? 


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