A new U.S. Route 66 in Missouri would sew together new, State Route 66 Scenic byway sections providing the Route 66 traveler with a continuous, seamless Route 66 connecting with a new U.S. Route 66 in Illinois and a new U.S. Route 66 in Kansas.
The great "Show Me" State of Missouri has some of the most bucolic, verdant and scenic sections of Route 66. There are also a number of traditional Route 66 attractions such as the 1931 Bridge on the Meramec River at the Route 66 State Park, Steiny's Inn (newly reopened Visitor Center for Route 66 State Park), Henry Shaw Arboretum, Meramec Caverns, the scenic Devils Elbow area, the old stone house at Jensen Point Overlook, Onondaga Cave at Leasburg, 66 Drive-In Theatre at Carthage and Schifferdecker Park and Museum in Joplin.
Much of Old Route 66 is now a State Historic Byway with National Scenic Byway status pending as of mid year 2012. During the last two years, the Missouri State DOT, working with the Route 66 Association of Missouri, has completed a rather ambitious new signing plan that now makes Route 66 in Missouri one of the best signed sections of Route 66 of any state.
For state ratings on signage see state route 66 signage ratings. Also, the most recent edition of the Official Missouri State Highway Map indicates Historic Route 66 icons placed along the length of the road although, sadly, not on their otherwise excellent urban inset maps. Interested Route 66 promoters and advocates should contact MODOT and encourage them to include Route 66 on their urban inset maps on future editions.
The new State Historic Byway and new signs notwithstanding, there are still some unsigned turns and alignments. Approaching Carthage, Historic Route 66 makes an abrupt turn in a 70MPH zone that lacks an adequate advance advisory sign so that many motorists miss the turn. Also, an historic routing in Carthage that carried the 66 U.S. Route designation for over 20 years (1932 - 1954) has no signs.
The State Byway is also segmented which produces signage gaps between Byway sections. According to a Rutgers University poll of Route 66 travelers, finding and staying on Route 66 (the direct result of inadequate signage) is the number one complaint.
A new U.S. Route designation would result in a continuously marked route from one state to the next that would facilitate state-to-state traffic on the historic Route and provide Route 66 travelers with consistent, uniform signage from Chicago to Santa Monica. It would also add additional directional signage at interchanges, junctions and intersections that are currently missing from many junctions and interchanges. (See More Signs Needed)
In Missouri, a very large proportion of what was once U.S. Highway 66 is still under state jurisdiction as either primary or secondary state highways. In fact, Missouri probably has more miles of Old Route 66 still under state management than any other state. For example, there is a virtually continuous stretch retaining its state highway status from Lebanon all the way to the Kansas state line. Unfortunately, designations other that the "66" moniker are assigned to these roads with only a few miles near the Kansas border being the only exception and even that short stretch is posted as Missouri State Highway 66 not U.S. 66.
It wouldn't be an overwhelming task to re-designate these primary and secondary state highways as U.S. 66 along the alignments of the Byway. In those areas where multiple Byway alignments exist, the special route designation of "Business", "Alternate" or "Bypass" could be used. It would be truly interesting and exciting to think of the prospect of three U.S. Route designations in the Saint Louis area again. Such a circumstance existed at one time with a "mainline" U.S. 66, a "Bypass" U.S. 66 and a "City" U.S. 66. Could that be done again?
In 2006 the Route 66 Recommissioning Initiative contacted all the Chambers of Commerce along the Route in Missouri and eight out of ten responses that came back were not only favorable but highly favorable. It is important to understand that The Initiative is a resigning proposal and NOT a "highway" plan.
Interested Missouri residents should contact their state representatives at:
E-mail or write them and urge them to support or introduce state legislation that would authorize the State DOT to restore Old Route 66's Official U.S. Highway designation in Missouri.
The United States Congress also has the authority to designate or re-designate U.S. Highways. Senator Claire McCaskill sits on the Senate Transportation Committee and might be in a particularly advantageous position to do help. Write to Senator McCaskill at http://mccaskill.senate.gov/?p=contact and urge her to include money for Route 66 signs in any upcoming Senate Transportation Authorization.
Let her know that a new official U.S. Route designation is needed for Old Route 66 and that federal assistance is needed to help pay for additional new signs and, where needed, repairing the old roadway and bridges.
Likewise, Senator Roy Blunt is also on the Committee and might be in a position to help. Contact Senator Blunt at http://www.blunt.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-form?p=contact-roy Let him know that Congressional legislation is needed to bring back route 66 and provide funds for new signs.
It also wouldn't hurt at all to write to the Missouri Dept. of Transportation and encouraging them to explore the idea of bringing back the "66" U.S. Route designation. Write to MODOT at http://www.modot.mo.gov/asp/request_information.shtml?comments The more people they hear from, the more serious they will become in addressing Route 66 issues.