Historic Route 66 Is About to Get a $1-million Upgrade — Making for Even More Epic Road and Cycling Trips

A federal grant program is improving scenic roads across the country.

The iconic Route 66 is about to get even better thanks to a $1 million government grant.

The money, awarded by the National Scenic Byways Program, will improve safety along more than a one-mile stretch of the historic Route 66 National Scenic Byway in Oklahoma, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) shared with Travel + Leisure. This project is one of more than 30 grants totaling $21.8 million awarded to improve roads in 29 States, including five grants awarded to tribal applicants.

Highway sign for Route 66 on asphalt of country road

Grafissimo/Getty Images

“FHWA is proud to award these grants that will help make travel safer, provide more enjoyable access, and support local businesses along scenic byways across the country,” federal highway administrator Shailen Bhatt said in a statement provided to T+L. “Scenic routes provide myriad ways to explore the United States, and it’s no wonder that since its inception in 1992, the National Scenic Byways Program has received broad support from Members of Congress, State and local officials, and the public.” 

When it comes to Route 66 — a scenic route from Chicago to Los Angeles — the road in Oklahoma is getting a new turn lane and 8-foot shoulders, making it safer for cyclists and drivers. The FHWA said the money would help generate economic activity from cyclists traveling Bicycle Route 66. That course runs along the legendary road (with some deviations) traveling on bike paths, county roads, and state, federal, and interstate highways, according to the Adventure Cycling Association.

Beyond Oklahoma, grants were awarded to projects across the country. This includes more than $1 million to preserve accessibility along the Ohio River Scenic Byway in Indiana and $96,000 to fund repairs at California’s Kentucky Mine Historical Park, which boasts a full-scale gold mine stamp mill machine.

And in Wisconsin, the Forest County Potawatomi Community Tribe received just over $300,000 to design and construct four culturally interpretive rest areas along the biking and pedestrian trail, including adding cultural artwork.

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