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D.C. Council to vote on designation of ‘Martin Luther King Drive’

D.C. Council members thought their summer break started when Tuesday’s legislative business gaveled to a close. Not so fast: Chairman Kwame R. Brown (D) has called another meeting for Thursday evening, one that promises to be brief.

There is one item for consideration: An emergency resolution to “symbolically designate” the Southeast/Southwest Freeway and the western stretches of Independence Avenue SW as Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

Under city law, the symbolic designation would be “in addition to and subordinate to” the current, official names for the thoroughfares.

Member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) explained in a memo to his colleagues that a permanent version of the bill he introduced in June to create “Martin Luther King Jr. Drive” could not be enacted in time for the Aug. 28 dedication of the new memorial to King located near the National Mall, thus necessitating emergency action.

“Dr. King was an incredibly influential figure around the world who led the way for landmark civil rights activism throughout this country,” Barry wrote in the memo. “Symbolically designating these streets would be an additional honor to Dr. King.”

The new drive would stretch from the northern end of the current Martin Luther King Ave. SE, in Barry’s ward, across the 11th Street bridge complex, down the freeway to the Maine Avenue exit, and then down Independence Avenue past the new memorial to its western terminus near the Potomac River.

Barry has twice before proposed naming similar stretches of roadway after King without success.

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