The U.S. Senate on Monday unanimously approved the Route 66 Centennial Commission Act. It must undergo reconciliation with the U.S. House before it advances to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature.
Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.) introduced the bill (S. 1014) in April 2019 to mark the 100th anniversary of historic Route 66.
The centennial commission would contain 15 members appointed by the president on the recommendation by the Secretary of Transportation, House Speaker, Senate Majority Leader and governors from the eight states Route 66 traverses.
For Route 66’s centennial in 2026, the commission must:
— Plan, develop a list and carry out such activities as the commission determines to be appropriate to honor Route 66 for its centennial;
— Provide advice and assistance to federal, state and local agencies and civic groups in carrying out activities to honor Route 66 on its centennial;
— Recommend activities that may be carried out by the federal government to honor Route 66 on its centennial;
— Submit reports and recommend activities such as producing books, pamphlets, films, electronic publications and other educational materials focusing on the history and impact of Route 66; bibliographical and documentary projects, publications and electronic resources; conferences, convocations, lectures, seminars and other programs; develop programs for libraries, museums, parks and historic sites; ceremonies and celebrations commemorating events; produce artistic works, programs and activities focusing on the significance of Route 66; and issue commemorative coins, medals, certificates of recognition and postage stamps.
The Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership stated in a news release:
The Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, is taking the lead in orchestrating the celebration of Route 66’s 100th birthday gala celebration in 2026, and it is starting immediately. A five-year series of birthday celebration initiatives begin in 2021, culminating in 2026, the road’s centennial year.
Think of the initiatives as “birthday presents” that individuals, corporations, foundations, organizations, communities and businesses are invited to give Route 66 over the next five years.
The purpose of these gifts is to support Route 66 through preservation, economic development, promotion, research and/or education projects. The goal is to position the historic highway, the communities along the road and the people who live there for success during the next 100 years.
“We are very thankful to Senators Duckworth and Inhofe for their support of the Commission bill,” said Bill Thomas, Road Ahead chairman. “They, along with the state Route 66 Associations and many grassroots supporters of Route 66, have put in place what we need to plan and carry out a ‘Party with a Purpose’ – helping Route 66.”
The partnership also supports a bill that would designate Route 66 as a national historic trail, but the measure has not been introduced to Congress, despite Route 66 enthusiasts prodding Inhofe to do so.
National-trail and centennial bills were introduced during the previous congressional session, but a government shutdown during the final month ultimately proved fatal for the measures’ chances for passage.
(Image of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington by Phil Roeder via Flickr)