Alva Review-Courier -

Cities to reinvent the Mother Road

 

March 25, 2018



OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Used to be, U.S. Route 66 carried a lot of travelers between Chicago and Santa Monica, California, and that traffic brought tourism money into central Oklahoma.

These days, that doesn't happen much at all. Warr Acres Vice Mayor Jim Mickley said people are more likely to seek out the Mother Road to buy a previously owned vehicle for traveling somewhere else. Interest in the corridor is dying, and with it, economic potential.

The Journal Record reports that Mickley and representatives of the Bethany, Yukon and Oklahoma City municipalities want to reverse that trend. They are coordinating efforts to redevelop part of Route 66, the corridor along NW 39th Street from the Interstate 44 interchange west to Frisco Road.

"There's really nothing of nostalgia to look at anymore on Route 66, other than Ann's Chicken-Fry over near Portland Avenue," Mickley said. "We'd like to see something other than car lots go in there, something that would pay taxes. There's just so much potential and things we'd like to see again."

At about 400 miles, Oklahoma has more miles of the original Route 66 than any other state, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Oklahoma City Planning Department Director Aubrey McDermid said the corridor features a wide range of land uses and architectural styles in various states of repair. It's also at risk for decline and loss of physical remnants defining Route 66 character and heritage, she said.

Inter-municipal efforts will focus on supporting local businesses, including some properties that are eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, spurring investment to create jobs, and increasing cultural enrichment sites.

McDermid and Mickley said talks are still too early to clarify specific goals and the best path toward success. Mickley said officials are already looking for grants to pay for the work and upkeep along the corridor. He also said Buxton, a market analytics company in Fort Worth, has been engaged as a consultant.

"This is the first step in a long process," McDermid said. "It will be a multipronged approach, I'm sure, with each municipality trying to figure out whether they have their own sources of capital improvements funding for improvements to the roadway and streetscaping.

"The only other challenge will be how to extend these resources to other portions of Oklahoma City and elsewhere along Route 66," she said.

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Information from: The Journal Record, http://www.journalrecord.com

 

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