The Arizona Department of Transportation has officially determined that there is no “Jefferson Davis Highway” in Arizona. ADOT found that the name, which was given to portions of U.S. Highway 80 in the early 1960s, was made obsolete when U.S. Highway 80 was decommissioned and turned into a state highway in 1989.
ADOT’s determination comes in response to years of pressure from community groups. Just two weeks ago, community leaders with the AZ Coalition for Change, ProgressNow Arizona, LUCHA, and other organizations delivered a petition with more than 1,000 signatures to the governor’s office demanding that the Jefferson Davis highway name be removed.
ADOT did not say how they would handle the physical marker currently located on U.S. Route 60 near Gold Canyon that labels that road as the Jefferson Davis Highway.
“ADOT should remove the marker as soon as possible,” said Rep. Reginald Bolding. “Given that ADOT has determined that the highway is not officially named after Jefferson Davis, the physical marker clearly needs to come down.”
ADOT personnel have claimed because the marker is privately owned, they cannot remove it, even though it is located on the highway right-of-way, which is managed by ADOT.
“It’s absurd for ADOT to claim that they cannot remove the marker just because it is privately owned. After all, we have laws and procedures in place around highway names for a reason. The fact that a private citizen is able to afford a highway marker should not give them the right to give the highway a new name. If I placed a marker next to the highway naming the road after myself, they would take it down. The same standard should apply to the Jefferson Davis marker,” said Emily Kirkland with ProgressNow Arizona.
“The name Jefferson Davis Highway does not exist in Arizona, but a very prominent stone marker stating ‘Jefferson Davis Highway’ sits alongside the road to this day. It makes no sense to have a marker naming a road that does not exist. Since ADOT brought the marker to the spot where it currently sits in Gold Canyon, ADOT is obligated to move the marker now and clear up this confusion on our roadways,” said Marisa Scionti, a community activist who has pushed for the removal of the marker.