long-planned visitors center celebrating the legacy of historic route 66 may get bond funding in november
A modern Route 66 facility that will almost certainly be advertised in neon may receive essential design and construction funding depending upon the results of a Bernalillo County bond question on the November ballot.
Bernalillo and Albuquerque officials, as well as members of the Southwest Alliance of Neighbors, have for several years been promoting the idea of a Route 66 Visitors Center that would pay tribute not just to the famous 2,200-mile network of roads, but also the fact that Albuquerque was a prominent stop along the way.
The planned site, at the corner of Central Avenue and 136th Street and at the top of the Nine Mile Hill, was purchased by Albuquerque in 2013.
Now, supporters are hoping to secure additional funding for what is expected to be an $8.2 million project.
So far, up to $4.5 million in state, city, and county funds have been set aside to make the center a reality.
If approved by voters, the project would receive another $750,000 as part of a larger $16.7 million county bond.
Efforts to pay tribute to what was in the 1920s known as the “Main Street of America” have seen similar Route 66 visitors centers opened in Springfield, Missouri; along with Route 66 museums in Pontiac, Illinois and Kingman, Arizona.
Connecting Chicago with the West Coast, Route 66 began to decline in use and popularity in the late 1950s with the advent of the Interstate Highway System.
Even so, cities and towns along the route have through the years continued to promote the idea that Route 66 should be memorialized and explored for its tourist potential.
According to reports, the Route 66 Visitors Center in Albuquerque could also see the construction of a drive-in theater, restaurant, and taproom.
By Garry Boulard
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