Lebanon, Missouri, may rename Elm Street to Route 66 within its city limits, reported the Lebanon Daily Record.
The mayor, Lyle Anderson, said when that change occurs isn’t certain, only that it is coming:
“It’s not clear yet what we are going to do, but I have at least committed to putting banners up and I’m getting some indication that people are willing to replace some signs on Elm Street to make it Route 66.”
Here’s one thing I didn’t know — Anderson told the newspaper the city is compelled by state law to eventually rename the street Route 66. And here it is, right in the statute books:
226.792. All highways and roadways, and portions thereof, within this state which constituted the original United States Route 66, as determined by the Missouri department of transportation, shall be renamed “Route 66” along those portions which constituted the original United States Route 66 and no political subdivision shall designate such portions otherwise.
The law was enacted in 1998, a year or two before I came fully immersed in the Mother Road.
According to KY3 in Springfield, the co-owner of a prominent Route 66 motel in Lebanon and other citizens reminded the Lebanon city council about the law a couple of weeks ago.
“It’s been elm street for a long time, but I think it’s time to change it to just plain Route 66,” says Ramona Lehman, owner the Munger Moss Motel along Route 66 in Lebanon.
“To me, it’s part of our roots. Why not relish it? Why not use it?” Lehman asks.
Anderson said the only hassle will be getting 300 businesses along Elm Street to change their addresses.
Some other towns other than Lebanon for now have kept the original street names instead of Route 66, and the state of Missouri apparently and understandably is in no hurry to enforce the law for logistical reasons.
But, eventually, everyone in the Show Me State must rename those streets. If you live in a Route 66 town in Missouri that hasn’t changed the street name of that road, you ought to politely remind city officials of their legal obligation. If nothing else, changing the street name will help guide Route 66 travelers through their town.
(Image of the Munger Moss Motel along old Route 66 by alan berning via Flickr)