Jacksonville FL (October 11, 2016) In 1934, the section of US1 from the St. Johns County line to Johns Street near downtown was dedicated to Duval Judge Henry Bethune Philips who was the first Chairman of the Florida State Road Board, the forerunner of the FDOT, naming it “Philips Highway” with one “L”.
The idea originated by the Southside Businessmen’s Club (SSBMC) as a result of Judge Philips efforts at building Florida highways. He had drafted the legislation that in 1921 created the state highway department. The SSBMC held festivities on July 12, 1934 where Judge Philips age 76 along with then Governor Dave Scholtz cut the ribbon in dedication. Judge Philips died in 1939.
Since that time, the spelling of Philips has been constantly misspelled with double “L”s and has been an ongoing battle to keep signs up and down the roadway accurate. As recently as about 1995 in an interview with Judge Philip’s son Eber Philips, he was quoted saying “as long as his mother was alive she would get after the city to correct the spellings”. Eber Philips died in 2000.
The issue caught the eye of the late Bob Hill, who was head of Jacksonville’s traffic engineering department, where he promptly ordered new street signs made for the entire length of Philips Highway. It took some months to get the Florida DOT to correct the exit signs from Interstate 95 to the highway named for its founder.
On October 11, City Council passed the Bill 2016-679 introduced by Council Member Becton that adopts an ordinance that will officially recognize the correct spelling of Philips Highway and to have government entities, citizens, business and property owners along this roadway to correct these misspellings on documents, residence address, street signs, highway markers and electronic communications with a target date of December 31, 2019.
“Philips Highway has always been one of those names that people get the spelling wrong on so many occasions”, CM Becton stated. “This was an opportunity to finally get it corrected so that the US Postal Service, Google Maps and many other digital platforms would be updated across the board to begin that process.” CM Becton added. “Now Businesses can begin to change their stationary, business cards and signage if the need arises to conform to the corrected spelling providing plenty of time and no financial impact except. Many business have stated that this will definitely help their customer now find them now”, CM Becton explained.
This Bill offers no funding or penalty for implementing or not implementing this ordinance. However, once enacted, the City of Jacksonville’s Planning and Development Department, the Addressing Unit and the Public Works Department will process, implement, and coordinate with 911 Emergency, Fire and Rescue Department, the U.S. Postal Service, Google and other affected agencies and organizations to standardize and remove any references to the double “L” listings.
In memory of Duval Judge Henry Bethune Philips, the first Chairman of the Florida State Road Board, whereby the US1 highway within Duval County was dedicated on July 12, 1934 in his honor, this Ordinance has been enacted as of November 9, 2016.
CM Becton extended a very special thank you and recognition as for the inspiration being provided by District 11 Sweetwater resident Mona Arreola. Her advocacy on this issue along with District 5 Council Member and President Lori Boyer in her co-sponsorship of this bill was very much appreciated.