- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Lawmakers in Virginia will consider whether to designate in honor of late President Ronald Reagan a stretch of a 300-year-old highway between Manassas and Dumfries that winds past bucolic settings and a Civil War battlefield.

A bill proposed by Delegate L. Scott Lingamfelter would allow state officials to recognize the 40th president by designating the heavily traveled Route 234 Bypass between Routes 1 and 66 in Prince William County as the “Ronald Wilson Reagan Memorial Highway.”

“He loved Virginia,” said Mr. Lingamfelter, Prince William County Republican. “He loved Civil War battlefields and to ride horses and the Manassas-Middleburg region is one he found very beautiful. It’s a natural in my mind.”

Lawmakers will take up the bill during the legislative session, which begins Jan. 12.

The bill must first go to the House Transportation Committee and then is subject to a vote by the full legislature.

The Route 234 Bypass is currently being widened from two lanes to four in most places. In some parts of the county, the highway is known as Dumfries Road. In other parts of the county, the road is known as the Prince William Parkway or is designated in honor of former county board Chairman Kathleen K. Seefeldt.

Delegate Joe T. May said he expects the bill to pass the House Transportation Committee.

“Ronald Reagan is one of my absolute favorite politicians,” said the Leesburg Republican who is acting chairman of the committee. “I like the ring of it compared to Prince William Parkway.”

Several lawmakers also said yesterday they would support the new designation in honor of Mr. Reagan, who died in June.

“Ronald Reagan is one of our nation’s greatest modern presidents,” said Delegate Jeffrey M. Frederick, Woodbridge Republican. “He brought hope and prosperity to the American people when we needed it most. It’s appropriate that we recognize him in this way.”

Lawmakers are not concerned the issue will become political.

An effort in Stafford County this past summer to name a new county high school after Mr. Reagan met fierce opposition. In the end, the Stafford County School Board named the school after the road it sits on because officials worried the Reagan name would have politicized a school matter.

Mr. Lingamfelter said his motivation is not to stir up political debate.

Delegate Kristen J. Amundson, Fairfax County Democrat, agreed. “Roads are much more politically palatable than schools,” she said.

Miss Amundson said she will support the Reagan designation as long as it is supported by the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, the local governing body.

Board Chairman Sean T. Connaughton said yesterday the board will examine the proposal.

“There obviously needs to be some details worked out and we need to know how it would actually be implemented,” said Mr. Connaughton, an at-large Republican seeking the nomination for lieutenant governor. “But personally I am open to it.”

Mr. Connaughton said there is a difference between designating the road for Mr. Reagan and actually renaming it. He said it would cost several hundred thousand dollars to rename the road, since all the homes and businesses would have to change their address.

House Speaker William J. Howell said roads in Virginia are often designated for famous statesmen or for different causes.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” the Stafford County Republican said of the Reagan proposal. “I don’t think there will be any strong debate on this.”

Delegate Harry J. Parrish, Manassas Republican, said he is in favor of the idea, but noted that he would also like to see a federal road named after Mr. Reagan.

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