The new joint base sign on Highway 27. Photo by Jeffrey Heeney

New highway, road signs change names to reflect joint base

Although traffic to Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall has been a bit sparse due to the commonwealth’s shelter-in-place order, drivers may have noticed some big changes on highways and roads near the base.

In April, the Virginia Department of Transportation began to install new signs that read Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall replacing Fort Myer and Henderson Hall on nearby highways and roads.

The Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall new signage project, estimated at a budget of $50,000, will be completed by the end of July. Since late April, several ground-mounted signs have been replaced or removed on Arlington Boulevard eastbound, Washington Boulevard westbound and Route 110 southbound, and nine more new signs will be installed by July. Last week marked the most difficult part of the project — the installation of two overhead signs above Washington Boulevard’s westbound and eastbound lanes outside of Hatfield Gate.

“We believe the changes will allow visitors to more easily find Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall,” said Allison Richter, director of Fairfax and Arlington counties and assistant district administrator at the Virginia Department of Transportation.

“This is a very important milestone in getting the partnership between the Army and Marine Corps on the joint base recognized in the community. The joint base encompasses three installations — Fort McNair in southwest (Washington), D.C., along with Fort Myer and Henderson Hall here in northern Virginia. For years, these were all known in the community as single installations,” said Michael Howard, public affairs director at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall.

Last October marked Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall’s 10th-anniversary. In 2009, the Department of Defense’s Base Realignment and Closure decision, known as BRAC, helped establish Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall as one of the first 12 joint bases.

“At that time, the Virginia Department of Transportation was approached about the possibility of changing the road signs to reflect the base’s name change, but leadership was advised that it would not be possible at the time due to a combination of issues, to include the length of the new name and the cost,” said Leah Rubalcaba, community relations officer at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall’s Public Affairs Office.

Finally, in March of last year, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall leadership convened with Virginia Department of Transportation representatives to request new signage. “

As we were planning to celebrate our 10-year anniversary as a joint base on the first of October 2019, Col. (Kimberly) Peeples, (the JBM-HH commander), and I wanted to do something special to mark the occasion,” said Marine Corps Lt. Col. Mark Paolicelli, the JBM-HH deputy commander. “The Virginia Department of Transportation has been great partners to help us fulfill this goal.”

This spring, the Virginia Department of Transportation commenced on the project after being stalled by higher priorities and weather conditions. Despite the delay, both parties have acknowledged making considerable progress and building a strong partnership.

“We feel that we built a great relationship through this effort and look forward to working together more in the future,” said Richter.

Paolicelli praised the successful cooperation among the community. “

From the joint base, our public affairs officer, Mike Howard, and our community relations officer, Leah Rubalcaba, have helped spearhead this effort,” he said. “(JBM-HH Police) Chief (William) Johnson has also been working hard to ensure that all GPS traffic is directed to our main gate.

“Our VDOT partners, specifically Allison Richter, Vladica Krstic and Donald Goolsby have put a lot of time and effort into the project and have been instrumental in our success. Finally, this project would never have been successful without the support of Mr. Robert ‘Bob’ Lazaro, the executive director for the Northern Virginia Regional Commission. Again, this was a true community partnership coming together to accomplish this project.”

By Denise Lew

Pentagram Reporter