Route 66 in the News
Preserving Route 66
ST. LOUIS, Mo. - If the Route 66 Association of Missouri gets its way, motorists will be getting their kicks on a National Scenic Byway. That's the plan unveiled at a meeting Wednesday, Feb. 17, at the Kirkwood Community Center.
During the meeting the president of the association, Tommy Pike, shared the podium with two members of Great Rivers Associates (GRA), a private firm out of Springfield, Mo., retained by the Route 66 Association to develop a Missouri Route 66 Corridor Management Plan. That plan is still in the fact-finding phase, according to Jerany Jackson of GRA.
GRA has been traveling along Route 66 in Missouri to catalog points of interest. GRA's report will be complete in July and will contain recommendations for developing Route 66 in Missouri. Both GRA and Pike stressed that the report is only a recommendation. It will be up to the individual counties along Route 66 to develop the areas.
The report, however, is a necessary step toward getting Route 66 in Missouri designated a National Scenic Byway. The Route 66 Association of Missouri is planning on applying for that status in 2011. If the route is so designated, Pike said, there can be economic benefits.
Last year $40.7 million in funds were spent on National Scenic Byways in the U.S. by the Federal Government. Missouri did not receive one penny of those funds. Eventually, Pike said, they would like to get Route 66 designated as an "All American Road." Only a handful of roads in the U.S. have received that designation.
Route 66 was established in 1926. It was first national highway to traverse the nation from Chicago to Los Angeles. It has a rich history associated with it. John Steinbeck in his novel "The Grapes of Wrath" referred to it as the "Mother Road." In Missouri it crosses 10 counties, starting in St. Louis and ending in Joplin. Route 66 was re-routed through the St. Louis area several times during its history. It was decommissioned as a highway in 1984.
For more about Missouri Route 66 Corridor Management Plan project, visit their Web site at Route66.greatriv.com.
~Mark Asher, SouthCountyTimes.com