State Sen. David Holt praised completion of an initiative to place signage marking historic Route 66 throughout Oklahoma City. The project was spearheaded by Sen. Holt and Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett and was a joint project of The City of Oklahoma City and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.
“Just in time for Labor Day road trips, Route 66 is now clearly marked throughout the metro,” said Sen. Holt, R-Oklahoma City. “Route 66 remains a draw for tourists, and Oklahoma City hosts some of its most recognizable landmarks. I appreciate the great work of the City and ODOT in making this project happen. This will help Oklahoma City continue its identification with this global icon.”
The project began in 2007, after pop legend Paul McCartney’s Route 66 road trip through Oklahoma City brought local attention to the continuing global draw that is “the Mother Road.” While serving as Chief of Staff to Mayor Cornett, Holt began exploring what could be done to better mark Route 66 within Oklahoma’s capital city. There are over 23 miles of Route 66 within the city limits of Oklahoma City, but there were only half a dozen signs in the entire city marking Route 66, five of which were at one intersection.
The City chose to mark the route that it had previously named the official Route 66 Scenic Byway. This route is largely the one used during the heyday of Route 66 (1929 – 1954). From west to east, it follows N.W. 36th Street to the N.W. 39th Street Expressway, briefly follows Interstate 44, turns south at May Avenue, turns east at N.W. 23rd Street, turns north at N. Lincoln Boulevard, briefly follows Interstate 44 again until turning north at Kelley. Route 66 then leaves Oklahoma City at just north of Memorial Road before coming back into the City for 3.5 more miles east of Arcadia along N.E. 192nd Street.
Oklahoma City’s Public Information Office created a design for an Oklahoma City-specific Route 66 sign, one that honors the traditional brown historic marker, but places “Oklahoma City” within the shield. Holt worked with Mike Hickey, President of the Oklahoma Route 66 Association, to identify the landmarks that would receive their own identifying signs. Those landmarks are the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, the State Capitol, the Gold Dome, the Milk Bottle, the Lake Overholser Bridge, and Route 66 Park. Welcome signs also mark entrances to Oklahoma City along the route. Oklahoma City’s Streets, Traffic, and Drainage Maintenance Department placed Oklahoma City’s signs.
After being elected to the Senate in 2010, Holt worked with ODOT to place the directional signs needed at the two locations in Oklahoma City where Route 66 follows Interstate 44. After some final adjustments over the summer to ensure that drivers could navigate the route through signage alone, the initiative, four years in the making, is now complete.