Route 66 Commission Rules Approved

The House and Senate recently passed a joint resolution approving proposed permanent rules of the Oklahoma Route 66 Commission. Governor Kevin Stitt has already signed the measure into law.

The vote was necessary to allow the commission to move forward with its work of administering revitalization grants for various projects along the historic roadway. I was told the nine commission members already are in the process of sorting through and scoring grants and may have some announcements at their April 11 meeting.

The City of Catoosa made a substantial request for upgrades to the Blue Whale in time for the 2026 Centennial. This fun attraction – with its wide toothy smile – has been drawing visitors since it was completed in the early 1970s. With the Centennial celebration of Route 66 approaching, the whale will take on an even greater prominence as a must-see stop.

The Oklahoma Route 66 Commission, under the state Department of Commerce, is charged with assisting Route 66 communities with undertaking impactful initiatives that will enhance the visitor experience, preserve historical landmarks and contribute to sustainable economic development along the portions of the roadway that still exist in Oklahoma.

The Commission hopes to accomplish its work through awarding of Project 66 Grants, which were created to support the revitalization of the Route 66 experience in Oklahoma and to preserve the cultural heritage of this historic highway, while fostering economic growth in the local communities it traverses. 

I’m hopeful the commission will find the Blue Whale project in Catoosa grant worthy.

There was also some talk of wanting to increase the speed limit from 65 miles per hour to 66 miles per hour on the state’s portions of Route 66, but highways are federally regulated and the feds will not allow for variations that do not end in five or zero.

While that project had to be shelved, there’s still plenty to be excited about as we plan for the Centennial of America’s favorite roadway. 

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The Oklahoma Route 66 Commission Reminds:

Who May Apply

  1. Municipalities or counties located on Route 66 
  2. Nonprofit organizations 
  3. Government Entity or Agency 

What is Funded

Route 66 projects must support historic preservation or economic development within communities on Route 66. 

Projects may be used for capital investments and/or a very limited number of promotional purposes. Examples of possible projects could be placemaking, facility enhancement, preservation efforts, new construction, planning, research, signage, etc. 

Applicants may apply for grants in multiple cycles to complete different phases of a project. 

Funding Request

Route 66 projects request must range from $25,000 to $2 million. 

Selection Process

The Oklahoma Route 66 Commission comprised of nine commissioners will review and make the project selections based on the criteria listed below. 

Commissioners’ evaluations will be based solely on the material provided in the application package. Additional materials not specifically required by the application will not be considered. 

If a project is not selected to be funded in the first round, applicants may resubmit the project again in the second round.

Evaluation and Selection Criteria

Consideration will be given to projects that have elements of historic preservation, new construction or projects with the greatest level of audience attraction, community enhancement and potential for sales tax generation. 

Applicants are required to provide a narrative for all four criteria. Applications will be judged on each of the criteria equally.  

  1. Project Description. Judging is based on a detailed description of each project submitted along with any maps, images, or visual aids that pertain to the project.
  2. Project Impact. This category will be judged on the description of the anticipated impact the project will have on the community, future tourism, and the entirety of Route 66 along with project objectives.
  3. Organizational Structure. Judging is based on organizational capacity, other partnering entities and project sustainability and maintenance.
  4. Budget. Judging is based on the clarity of the overall budget with any matching component.

Round 2 Application Opens: February 3, 2024

Round 2 Application Closes: July 19, 2024

For questions or more information, contact:

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