Tulsa Commission Hopeful for Federal Designation of Route 66

Feb 14, 2017

The Tulsa Route 66 Commission is hopeful about an effort to give the Mother Road a special status.

A bipartisan U.S. House bill would designate all 2,400 miles of Route 66 as a National Historic Trail.

"Since we're now making this great focus and push in Tulsa — this is at a federal level, but still, that gives us a better chance to ... help our 24 miles of the stretch of the road," said commission Chair Ken Busby.

One way National Historic Trail designation would help is potential access to federal funding for local projects. Tulsa has little time to take advantage of an existing Route 66 federal grant, which sunsets in 2019.

"And it's allowed for repaving sections of road, improvement of bridges, helping with landmarks that are along Route 66, and so if that goes away, then all of a sudden, there is no federal program that takes care of Route 66," Busby said.

Route 66 would be the first modern road designated a National Historic Trail.

"The National Trail designation has been used historically for older trails, like the Chisolm Trail, Trail of Tears, things like of that nature," said Oklahoma Route 66 Association Tulsa County representative Rhys Martin. "What it does is it provides a conduit for national awareness to Route 66 in that it's not only important to tourists, but it's important to the development of the United States as a whole."

The legislation is currently in the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources.