More than any other state, the history of Oklahoma and Route 66 are very deeply intertwined. Many famous Americans have come from Oklahoma who came to be associated with the Road in one way or another. Will Rogers, Woody Guthrie and Roger Miller come to mind. There was also Cyrus Avery, a notable Oklahoman who was instrumental in the initial development of U.S. 66 in the 1920's. Then there was Jack Cutberth who tirelessly and relentlessly promoted the Route from 1947 through the 1960's. If Jack could've had his way, surely Route 66 wouldn't have been decommissioned. If he were still with us today, it would be hard to imagine Jack as anything but a fervent supporter of re-commissioning.
Many Route 66 icons and landmarks can be found along the Road through Oklahoma. There is the famous "Blue Whale" of Catoosa, the Round Barn of Arcadia, the pottery factory in Sapulpa and the Route 66 museum in Clinton to just name a few. There is also a myriad of historic motels and "mom and pop" restaurants throughout the state that help bring the traveler back to a bygone era of cross-country motoring.
In Oklahoma, virtually all of the pre-Interstate Highway era Route 66 is still intact and drivable. From the Kansas state line to just west of El Reno, most of old Route 66 is still under state DOT management and is designated as state highway, just not U.S. 66. In western Oklahoma there are also several portions designated as Interstate "Business Loop" 40. But western Oklahoma also contains some mileage that has reverted to county maintenance. The issue of posting official U.S. Route markers along a county highway will need to be resolved. It would be ideal if the state would take back and maintain these roads keeping them well posted with Route 66 markers.
Some of these county roads are at or near state highway standards while others sections clearly are not. In circumstances where a weaker, sub-standard county road has no surviving businesses, it might be more expedient to simply run the new U.S. 66 route designation over a newer alignment or on the Interstate. However, brown and white commemorative markers could remain posted over such weaker sections.
Most of Old Route 66 in Oklahoma has now been designated as National Scenic Byway. This helped focus attention on Route 66 and helped improve signage.
In recent years, the Oklahoma DOT has also indicated the Route 66 icon on their official DOT state maps. Unfortunately, they still do not indicate Route 66 on their otherwise excellent inset maps of Tulsa and Oklahoma City. Interested parties should write to ODOT and encourage them to include Route 66 on the inset maps of future editions. Write to ODOT at: email@example.com.
When it comes to providing the Route 66 traveler with route signage, Oklahoma does not have the best signage but neither do they have the worst. For state to state ratings on signs see state route 66 signage ratings. According to a recent study conducted by Rutgers University, the difficulty of finding and staying on Route 66 - the direct result of inadequate signage - is the number one complaint of Route 66 travelers. The new Route 66 Scenic Byway notwithstanding, improvements to route signs in the state are still needed. See More Signs Needed
Re-designating Old Route 66 as a U.S. Route would provide travelers with a consistent, continuous, state-to-state marking plan, improve signage and return U.S. Route 66 to all standard road maps. It would also serve to make Route 66 more "visible" to the casual tourist and traveler resulting in increased traffic and business over the old route. With the coming of the Scenic Byway, the new U.S. 66 could simply share the road with the Byway with the new U.S. 66 made to adhere to all existing Byway criteria and guidelines.
Many historic and newer businesses and properties are already capitalizing on the Route 66 name and, although a few are struggling, all, both old and new alike, would be in a position to profit from a revitalized U.S. Route 66.
The United States Congress has the authority to designate or re-designate U.S. Highways. E-mail or write your U.S. Representative at:
Let your U.S. representative 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 to help defray any costs incurred where the state transportation department needs to re-annex roads that were turned back over to county maintenance.
It would also be of some benefit to write to the Oklahoma D.O.T. and let them know that better signage is needed for Route 66 in the State. Encourage them to look into the re-establishment of the "66" U.S. Route designation over the Byway alignments.
Write to them at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The more people they hear from, the more likely they are to address the unique transportation issues specific to Route 66.