“Route 66” could soon turn into a national historic trail

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JOPLIN, MO – A new bill could soon turn “Route 66” into something historic. This involves House Bill 8240.

Lawmakers had been working on a version of the bill since 2018, when it was originally introduced on the federal level.

However, it was changed in the senate and didn’t progress after that.

The new bill hopes to bridge the gap, making “The Mother Road” a national historic trail and help local communities.

“It’s an initiative that Road Ahead would like to see accomplished in order to make sure that there’s an ongoing federal interest in Route 66.” Says Bill Thomas, Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership Chairman.

The “Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership” is sponsoring House Bill 8240. If passed, it will turn “Route 66” into a national historic trail.

“It helps with projects that are designed to promote the road, in other words to make sure are aware of it, motivated to travel it.” Says Thomas.

This travel has been the basis for economic development across its eight state span, creating jobs and attractions for generations.

“The tourism Route 66 provides to the nation’s economy is tremendous… Just here on a national average, we see, between here and our visitors center, we see between eight and ten thousand people every year.” Says Mary Billington, Baxter Springs Historical Museum Director.

The benefits won’t stop there, passing the bill will help with maintaining the history of “The Mother Road.”

“It will also allow us to continue our preservation efforts.” Says Thomas

“You can have more of our homes that are historic homes, be available to be put on the national register, locations become national historic sites and it opens up grant money to refurbish these homes.” Says Billington.

House Bill 8240 looks to improve upon it’s original version from 2018.

Now it’s designed to appeal to the interest of the House and the Senate.

“We are hopeful that this is going to pass through both unties there and hit the presidents desk and it will be signed into law.” Says Billington.

The bill was introduced in May.

Residents can get involved. All they have to do is contact their state representative and ask them to become a co-sponsor of the bill.

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