Route 29 to become Wahoo Highway?

seminoletrailKudos to Brian Wheeler of Charlottesville Tomorrow for staying to the end of an October 4 Albemarle County Board of Supervisors meeting (a feat in itself!) to bring us this little gem: apparently, UVA basketball coach Dave Leitao has been talking about the idea of renaming Route 29 from Seminole Trail to an as yet undecided more UVA friendly name. Apparently, something like Cavalier Way. Or how about Wahoo Highway? The Way to Wahoo? Any ideas?

According to Wheeler, the Supervisors suggested that Leitao and UVA might be irked at having the Florida State Seminoles arrive at the new John Paul Jones Arena down a road named in their honor. Supervisor Dennis Rooker reported that Leitao has said he could recruit UVA students to collect the required signatures from 50% of the property owners affected by the change. Yes, but will he pay for all the new business cards, checkbooks, menus, and letterheads?

Calls to Leitao and Rooker have gone unreturned.

Supervisor Sally Thomas, attempting to correct history, suggested that any discussion about renaming Route 29 needed to include the Monacan Indians, the Native American tribe that actually lived in Central Virginia. However, naming it the Seminole Trail may not have had anything to do with honoring Native American heritage.

After all, why the route was named after an Indian tribe located in Florida has always been a mystery. We do know that the Virginia General Assembly voted on the name in 1928, but the act – Senate Bill 64 – doesn’t explain why the name was chosen or who proposed it. One popular theory suggests that promotion-savvy local officials were trying to cash in on Florida’s allure, reminding people that the road was not just a connection between Warrenton and Danville, but a gateway to the Sunshine State! If that’s the case, perhaps we deserve the mismatched route name.

As Wheeler reports, any new name for 29 would have to be approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board, and they would be unlikely to move on a name change without a resolution from the BOS.

Update 10/11/06 2:00pm: Late yesterday, coach Leitao communicated through his secretary that he didn’t know enough about the Seminole Trail name change issue to offer comment. However, a story in today’s Daily Progress outs one Robert Billingsley, an adjunct professor at the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration, as the one who approached the BOS on behalf of the UVA basketball team and others interested in changing the route’s name. But Billingsley refused to comment, saying “I think publicity at this point could hurt the effort,” the DP reports. Ooops! Too late!

As Rooker wisely points out in the DP story, if the idea is to have a UVA-themed name for the road leading to the University, then Emmet Street should be re-named as well. And that, said Charlottesville spokesman Ric Barrick, taking into account all the businesses along the route, “would be hard to do.”

4 comments

I don't like UVA but it seems to make more sense to name the road after a Virginia school instead of a widely-despised ACC rival. You can almost see the people with the Florida plates doing the tomahawk chop as they drive down 29.

how about the coaches worry about coaching instead of renaming roads, updating jerseys, fussing with what the students wear, etc.

Renaming usually happens to honor something/someone. Let's talk after an acc title at least!

I agree that an ACC win and other evidence of exemplary basketball is indicated before local gov'ment cowtows to the whims of a unviersity coach. Leitao might be gone in a few years; the rest of us who call Charlottesville home needn't be stuck with the passing fancy of someone who may be merely passing through.

I was told many years ago that the name Seminole Trail commemorated the infamous "Trail of Tears" event in which the federal government forced the Cherokee Indians to relocate West of the Mississippi. I know that the local Monacan Indians and the Seminole Indians of Florida were related to the Cherokee.