Proposal to rename A1A “Jimmy Buffett Highway” hits sour note with readers

by | Oct 17, 2023

  • A proposal to redesignate the full length of Florida’s A1A as “Jimmy Buffett Memorial Highway” is opposed by a supermajority of Capitolist readers.
  • A second, more limited proposal has also been filed in the state legislature to rename only a small portion of the highway near Key West.
  • It’s not clear if readers would support the more limited proposal or oppose it just as strongly as the full-length redesigniation. 
  • A new poll has been opened to guage reader opinions.

As the debate over renaming Florida’s iconic State Road A1A heats up, and two competing legislative proposals vying for public and political support, Capitolist readers, have already had their say on one of them. In our reader poll, which is still active, 61.2 percent oppose renaming Florida’s most famous road to “Jimmy Buffett Memorial Highway,” while 38.8% are in favor. The Capitolist first reported on the House Republican proposal to rename the road on Oct. 2, 2023.

But part of the reader resistance may be linked to the sheer scale of the proposal. Rep. Chuck Clemons, R-Newberry, had introduced a bill (HB 91) aimed at renaming the entire length of State Road A1A in honor of the late musician Jimmy Buffett. Known for songs like “Margaritaville,” Buffett’s music is synonymous with Florida’s coastal lifestyle. The proposal suggested renaming the road from Monroe County in the south to Nassau County in the north. However, a rival proposal was also filed this month by Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book, a Davie Democrat, aiming to rename just a two-mile stretch of the Overseas Highway entering Key West.

The Capitolist poll underscores the cultural weight the iconic roadway holds for many Floridians. State Road A1A has long been a symbol of Florida beach culture, a sentiment echoed by the majority of readers who participated in the poll. But renaming the road could also have practical implications, including updates to maps, signs, and literature, along with the associated costs and logistical challenges.

While both legislative proposals intend to honor Buffett’s contributions to Florida’s culture, they take different approaches. Clemons’ bill aims for a grander tribute by renaming the entire 339-mile stretch of road, while Book’s focuses on just the final two-mile stretch entering Key West. Book’s bill (SB 84) appears to offer a compromise, targeting a specific area closely associated with Buffett without changing the name of the whole road.

With the legislative session set to begin in January 2024, lawmakers will consider both bills. While neither proposal has yet been debated on the legislative floor, public opinion, which includes input by Capitolist readers, suggests that despite Buffett’s wide popularity, any attempt to rename State Road A1A will get considerable scrutiny.

The competing proposals present legislators with a dilemma—how to honor a cultural icon without erasing another. As the session nears, the poll results from Capitolist readers serve as an early temperature check on a topic that promises to stir passionate debate in the Sunshine State.

Take our new poll, here:

Which of the following proposals to honor the life of Jimmy Buffett do you support (if any)?


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