Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership endorses bill for Route 66 National Historic Trail designation

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Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership endorses bill to designate iconic route National Historic Trail
Photo credit: California Historic Route 66 Association

NATIONWIDE – Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership – a collaboration of people at the state and local levels along Route 66, endorsed a bill introduced earlier this month, that would amend the National Trails System Act and add Route 66 to the system. 

Route 66 became a part of the US Highway system in 1926 when the numerical designation 66 was assigned to the Chicago-to-Los Angeles route. The trail route, delisted as a national highway in 1985, goes through many High Desert cities including Victorville, Barstow, Oro Grande, Newberry Springs and Helendale.

U.S. Senators Jim Inhofe and James Lankford of Oklahoma and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas,  introduced bill number S.5170 to designate it as a National Historic Trail.

National Historic Trails follow past routes of exploration, migration, struggle, trade, and military action. 

Designation allows for:

  • Consistent signage along the length of the trail;
  • Documentation of the trail’s route in the Federal Register and other government publications;
  • The power of Congress to acquire land up to a quarter of a mile on either side of the trail to protect the integrity of the trail;
  • Line item funding in the federal budget or funding to nonprofits that Congress recognizes for developing and maintaining the trails.

This is not the first push for a Route 66 National Historic Trail designation.

In 1990, the National Park Service considered it, however Congress declined it at the time. Instead they created the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, administered by the National Park Service. 

RELATED: Route 66 preservation grant awarded for Henning Motel sign restoration

In 2021, H.R.3600 bill was introduced to obtain the designation and has yet to pass Congress.

Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership Chairman Bill Thomas endorsed this latest amendment.

“As the historic milestone of the Road’s Centennial draws closer, the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership can think of no better present for Route 66 than to make it a National Historic Trail. The Road Ahead commends the efforts of Senators Inhofe, Lankford, and Cruz in introducing legislation to accomplish this designation,” said Thomas in a statement to Route 66 News

Thomas said he encourages interested parties to contact their representatives in Congress to advocate for a floor vote in the House on H.R.3600 and to advance S.5170 in the Senate.

Skopos Labs, a team that predicts policy-making outcomes, give the measure a 4% chance of becoming law.

Another initiative, launched summer 2022, to gain public awareness for the designation is the Exxon Mobil 1 “Keep Route 66 Kickin” campaign.

“The small businesses keep Route 66 going for us,” says the campaign video. “We can return the favor and support them. For the love of driving, let’s keep Route 66 kickin.”

Mobil 1 began the campaign with the goal of collecting 66,000 petition signatures in efforts to support small businesses on the route. The campaign included a series of events along the route, as well as hosting a directory for businesses on the route and collecting Route 66 stories. 

The campaign has collected 6,547 signatures to date.

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