Arlington officials, who fought construction of Rte. I-66 through their county, later thought it would be a fine idea to call the highway "Arlington Parkway."
"The idea is to get Arlington on the map," said one supporter, County Board member Dorothy Grotos. "You're in and out of Arlington before you know it."
But some officials in neighboring Fairfax County were astounded. "The name is totally inappropriate," said Fairfax Board Chairman John F. Herrity. "They (Arlington officials) spent all their worldly fortune opposing the road."
To reach a compromise, the two counties are moving toward a name -- Custis -- that has strong historical roots in both Arlington and Fairfax.
George Washington, who lived in Fairfax, married a Custis -- Martha. And Robert E. Lee married a Custis -- Mary -- and lived for five years at Mary's ancestral home in Fairfax.
Custis is also an illustrious name in Arlington. The Washingtons' adopted son, George Washington Parke Custis (Mary Custis' father), built the Custis mansion (Arlington House), which stands on a hill in Arlington National Cemetery.
The Arlington Board has tentatively given its support to the name "Custis Parkway," but Grotos -- who originally backed "Arlington Parkway" -- noted that Arlington already has a Nellie Custis Drive. (It also has an Arlington Boulevard.)
Fairfax Supervisor Nancy K. Falck has promised to float the compromise name by her colleagues on the Fairfax Board.
The purpose behind the naming of the new section of I-66 (due to open next year) is to give the controversial road, which was delayed for years by citizen opposition, a good image. As another part of the image-building, the Virginia Department of Highways and Transportation -- long a supporter of construction -- has promised to provide extensive landscaping.