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US 1 (VA)

U.S. Route 1 in the U.S. state of Virginia runs north–south through South Hill, Petersburg, Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Alexandria on its way from North Carolina to the 14th Street Bridge into the District of Columbia. It is completely paralleled by Interstate Highways in Virginia – Interstate 85 south of Petersburg, Interstate 95 north to Alexandria, and Interstate 395 into the District – and now serves mainly local traffic. At its north end, on the approach to the 14th Street Bridge, US 1 is concurrent with I-395; the rest of US 1 is on surface roads.

From the North Carolina state line to Petersburg, US 1 parallels Interstate 85 and is partly known as Boydton Plank Road. From Petersburg northward, US 1 parallels Interstate 95 and is known in most places as the Jefferson Davis Highway. In Richmond, the name of Route 1 changes from Jefferson Davis Highway to Cowardin Avenue; then changes to Belvidere Street, then Chamberlayne Avenue and finally Brook Road. There is a portion of Route 1 that changes names to Richmond Highway north of Woodbridge and ending at the Capital Beltway at Alexandria, becoming Henry/Patrick streets, then changing back to Jefferson Davis Highway in the Del Ray section of Alexandria and continuing with that name alongside the high-rise Crystal City office complex in Arlington. In the city of Fredericksburg, between Richmond and the District of Columbia, it borders the northwestern edge of the University of Mary Washington campus. Just before entering the District of Columbia, it runs along the Southwest Freeway at the 14th Street Bridge.

What is now US 1 was added to the state highway system in 1918 as State Route 1, following the older Jefferson Davis Highway, which approximated at its northern end the route of the former Washington and Alexandria Turnpike. The road was renumbered State Route 31 in the 1923 renumbering, and US 1 was applied to its whole length in 1926. SR 31 was dropped in the 1933 renumbering, and was immediately reused on its current alignment.

Prior to ca. 1924, SR 1/31 crossed the North Carolina state line with State Route 2/State Route 32 south of Clarksville on present U.S. Route 15. On the North Carolina side, it was North Carolina Highway 75. From Clarksville it ran east on present U.S. Route 58 to near South Hill. The route continued east from South Hill to Edgerton on present US 58 and north to near McKenney on present State Route 712 until about the same time. This alignment was defined as the Jefferson Davis Highway on March 17, 1922.

By 1925, SR 31 was moved to the current alignment of US 1 south of McKenney (previously State Route 122 south of South Hill and State Route 314 north of South Hill), but the Jefferson Davis Highway did not follow. This took SR 31 to the border at what was then North Carolina Highway 50. The old alignment remained State Route 32 south of Clarksville and State Route 12 from Boydton to Edgerton, and became State Route 201 from Clarksville to Boydton and a new State Route 122 from Edgerton to near McKenney.

The preliminary plan for United States Numbered Highways was drawn up in 1925, and all of SR 31 was assigned US 1. The former SR 31 west and south from near South Hill into North Carolina became U.S. Route 401. In late 1926, the final plan was adopted, and all of US 401 was renumbered to U.S. Route 15. However, by April 1927, US 15 had been extended north from Clarksville, and the short piece from Clarksville to near South Hill was again U.S. Route 401.

In 1975, the interchange between I-395 and U.S. 1 was rebuilt, and originally there were plans to upgrade US 1 to Interstate 595 southward to the connector road with Reagan National Airport. However, the upgrade as proposed was never built. Instead, US 1 is elevated with a diamond interchange over 15th Street South, but is a surface road with signaled intersections at 20th Street South and further south.[dead link]

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