MIAMI -- Miami-Dade may swap Harriet Tubman's name for "Dixie" on county roads, but U.S. 1 would remain Dixie Highway unless Florida agrees to the change.
Legislation set for approval Wednesday by the Miami-Dade County Commission would strip Dixie from portions of Old Dixie Highway and West Dixie Highway, stretches of road maintained by the county. Those roads, which parallel state-owned U.S. 1, would become Harriet Tubman Highway.
A second portion of the legislation instructs Miami-Dade lobbyists to press Florida lawmakers to join in the change and rename U.S. 1 and other stretches of Dixie Highway after Tubman, too. The resolution is sponsored by the commission's senior African-American member, Dennis Moss, and received unanimous support during a preliminary discussion by the board earlier this month.
The Moss resolution highlights the extended process ahead to retire the Dixie name in Miami-Dade even if commissioners move quickly to exercise their authority to strike it countywide. Miami-Dade has authority only over limited sections of roads carrying the Dixie name, while Florida controls most of the prominent "Dixie" highways and roads. (While the U.S. 1 route runs to Maine, it's a collection of north-south highways that are mostly controlled by states that agreed to the "1" designation in the 1920s as part of an effort by Washington to create a system of national highways, according to an online history of U.S. 1 published by the Federal Highway Administration.)
Where Florida controls the Dixie Highway name
Old Dixie Highway is a county road that runs alongside U.S. 1 in South Dade. The Moss resolution would create Harriet Tubman Highway in South Dade. Tubman was a legendary "conductor" of the Underground Railroad, helping ferry slaves to freedom through a network of safehouses and hideaways established throughout the slave-holding south ahead of the Civil War.
The Moss resolution would also extend the name to a second Harriet Tubman Highway where West Dixie Highway runs between North Miami Beach and Hallandale Beach.
West Dixie Highway is a county road that runs parallel to Biscayne Boulevard, which is an extension of U.S. 1. The Moss resolution also urges Florida to rename the part of West Dixie that runs south of the county-controlled portion, from North Miami Beach to Miami Shores.
Florida Rep. Vance Aloupis, a Republican whose 115th District includes part of U.S. 1 carrying the Dixie name, said he would support legislation proposed by Moss.
"Hopefully, renaming the highway in honor of Harriet Tubman will be an ever-present reminder of both her courage and connections to Florida," Aloupis said.