The ‘Welcome to Woodbridge’ sign has been a community landmark for many years, but now it’s on the chopping block, as the county moves forward with Route 1 improvements.
The sign, located at the corner of Jefferson Davis Highway and Annapolis Way, was built by Arban & Carosi in the early 90s, according to Woodbridge Rotary member John Walvius.
Several community organizations – including the Woodbridge Rotary – as well as the Lions Club, the Girls Scouts, and the American Legion, made the sign possible with large financial contributions, with the goal of making the entryway into the Woodbridge area more appealing.
The sign cost around $25,000 to construct, according to Walvius.
“This [sign] certainly was an asset for [those] coming into the Woodbridge area…the objective is to improve the community,” said Walvius.
While the organizations didn’t own the sign or the land where the sign is located, they were surprised to learn that the sign was being torn down for the expansion of Route 1 in the area, as they were not notified, according to Walvius. According to Walvius, they found out about the sign’s impending removal from a Rotary member who happened to pass by the sign and the construction.
“I can’t say that anybody owns the sign…but I’m led to believe that we contributed financially to the construction of the sign, and I know that we had a lot to do with getting the sign built, but we don’t really own the sign. So was it required for the county to notify us? No. On the other hand I have to say they should have informed a lot of people that the sign is going, but they’re more interested in constructing the road than they have been about the sign,” said Walvius.
Despite the sign’s historical and community significance, the county has no plans to move the sign to another location.
“Public Works does not have plans to replace this sign after the construction is complete,” stated Assistant Public Works Director Matthew Villareale in an email.
Nearby historical markers will also be removed as part of the road construction, but these signs will be reinstalled by the Historic Preservation Division, stated Villareale in an email. The historical markers talk about the history of Occoquan, and the surrounding Prince William area.
While the solid structure of the sign is still intact, the signs with the logos of the various organizations that helped to make the sign possible have been removed and stored in the county’s Sign Shop, according to Villareale in an email.
Woodbridge Supervisor Frank Principi, whose district covers the area where the sign is located, stated that he was neutral about the existing sign, and whether a new sign was the right course of action.
“I don’t yet have a position on whether the existing sign should be preserved and rebuilt or whether a new sign is most appropriate. I’d like to go through a public process and solicit input from a variety of sources. There are a number of ongoing efforts, including a consolidation of the various planning and design documents for North Woodbridge and the Route 1 corridor (Potomac Communities), that might provide us an interesting opportunity to develop a comprehensive marketing and brand campaign that would coincide nicely with new signage, while simultaneously providing the visibility & recognition for the 9 organizations that were previously represented,” stated Principi in an email.
Walvius said that the Rotary intends to continue to look for a resolution, but no moves have been made by the county or any officials to remedy their concerns about the sign’s removal.
“Nobody is making any agreements or anything like that,” Walvius said.