Exclusive: Stafford to rename Route 1 for fallen Virginia State Police Trooper

Stafford County wants to name its portion of Route 1 after a fallen hero.

Jessica J. Cheney gave her life in the service of Virginians. At 23, only two years after becoming Virginia State Police Trooper, a car collided with Cheney at a work zone on Route 1 at the Stafford Courthouse on January 17, 1998

Cheney was directing traffic when it happened. She was taken to a local hospital, where she died.

“My sister gave her life on that stretch of Route 1,” said Romaine Cheney, the late trooper’s only sister, who can’t wait to see her sister’s name on the highway. “Our whole family loves this idea. We consider it an honor.”

Serving Virginians was something that ran in her family. Jessica grew up in King William County, about an hour southeast of Fredericksburg, and was an EMT in both Spotsylvania and Hanover counties.

After her mother got a job working as a dispatcher for the Virginia State Police in 1988, Jessica knew she, too, wanted to work for the state’s most prominent law enforcement agency. She was assigned to work in the Fredericksburg region.

Officer Down memorial page

Supervisors will take up the resolution to rename the highway at its Tuesday, March 16 meeting.

“I was in middle school at Stafford Middle when Jessica gave her life in the line of duty,” said Stafford County Board of Supervisors Chair Crystal Vanuch. “This is something I have been working on for several months, and there is nothing more fitting than to sponsor this resolution during women’s history month for a woman killed in the line of duty at the age of 23, 23 years ago this year.”

The resolution comes as a Delegate Josh Cole (D-28, Fredericksburg, Stafford), pushed a bill into law this year, ordering localities across the state to remove from the highway the name of Jefferson Davis–the president of the Confederacy, whose name has been on the road since 1922.

The bill allows localities to choose a name and then petition the Commonwealth Transportation Board in Richmond for permission to use that name. If it didn’t come up with a name on its own, the street would be automatically renamed Emanacipaton Highway at the localities’ expense.

Last month, a spokesman for Cole said the lawmaker wanted to rename the street Loving Memorial Highway for Richard and Mildred Loving of Caroline County. The couple was at the center of a 1967 civil rights case that deemed it unconstitutional for Virginia to ban interracial marriages.

However, a surviving member of the Loving family objected.

The name change won’t be cheap and could cost as much as $1.2 million. New road signs are needed, and businesses on the roadway must change their addresses and marketing materials.

Stafford hopes to shift the cost to the Virginia Department of Transportation by asking Virginia State Police Superintendent Col. Gary T. Settle to sign off on the request. If the request from a state agency, the state must pay, we’re told.

“An honor of this significance is so fitting for a young woman and trooper who consistently went above and beyond to serve the Commonwealth and Stafford County,” Settle told Potomac Local News. “The department looks forward to working with Stafford County, the Virginia Department of Transportation and the Commonwealth Transportation Board to make this a reality for Jessica and her family.”

Last December, county leaders mulled renaming Route 1 Richmond Highway to match localities to the north, such as Fairfax, which renamed its portion of the road to Richmond Highway in the 1970s, and Prince William, which is working on rebranding the road to the same name later this year.

Route 1 traverses 200 miles of land in Virginia, stretching between North Carolina and Washington, D.C. A portion of Route 1 that runs through the Falmouth area of Stafford County, named Cambridge Street, would be unchanged.

A bridge that carries traffic on Garrisonville Road over Interstate 95 is also named for Cheney.

11 thoughts on “Exclusive: Stafford to rename Route 1 for fallen Virginia State Police Trooper

  1. I think we have more important things to spend money on. I also think we need someone better than Josh Cole, that knows how to prioritize things that are needed.

  2. We need to stop naming things after people. It is decisive and today’s heroes are sometimes tomorrow’s villains. Richmond Highway or the historical name King’s Highway are more appropriate and more consistent with other bands for tyr road.

  3. Who should I look to for reimbursement of my gratuitous expenses involved in printing new marketing material for my small business situated on Rt 1??

  4. How about naming the County “Cheney County”? Now that would be fitting! Stafford was an old white slave owning British Lord who had a Shire named after him and the settlers just copied the name, thinking it was cool! Kinda like Lee Highway!

    1. Well if we are going historical… why not Powhatan highway? Seems a better idea.

      For someone that doesn’t like spending money on name changes changing all of Stafford is a big step, good for you.

  5. No offense, but why didn’t they just name the rest of it Cambridge Street? That’s the name for the road in the southern half of the county. Could’ve had one name for the whole county…

  6. What a great idea. Honor a hero, and it is also fitting because it is Women’s History month. I hope other county’s follow suit in naming their portion of Rt. 1 in such a manner.

  7. How about just leave it alone !!! The current name is just fine. I’m tired of these snowflakes and hurt feelings changing names on everything offensive !!! Why rename everything because some feelings got hurt? Just call it rt1 .

      1. No snowflakes here! I’m just tired of Virginia spending money on unnecessary items! As I’ve mentioned in previous comments if we are going to use a police officer then perhaps lets choose an officer who was killed defending the citizens of Virginia. This is not to take away anything from this officer mentioned here however. But before we start naming major sections of Virginia highways after fallen law enforcement officers perhaps we should set the bar higher? Or perhaps we should just leave the name as it is now !!! Before you call someone a snowflake you should understand who they are and what they stand for Dumbledor!!! At least i use my i use my name and am proud of it !!!

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