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State Awards $3.3 Million for Rt. 66 Projects

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) announced seven awards totaling $3.3 million through the Route 66 Grant Program. This funding is intended to boost local tourism and attract visitors to the historic Route 66, leading up to the 100th Anniversary of Route 66 in 2026.


"Like so many great things, Route 66 begins in Chicago, travels Illinois, and spreads across the country delighting millions and forming an essential part of our nation,” said Governor JB Pritzker. "These investments will enhance visitor experiences and build on existing attractions to ensure Illinois and Route 66 remain vibrant elements of American culture and tradition for many years to come.”


300 miles of Route 66 weave through Illinois, and the economic and historical impact of Route 66 is felt firsthand in communities across the state. These grants will bolster tourism, education, preservation, and promotion of Route 66, while prioritizing the needs of future travelers by prioritizing projects focused on future transportation and tourism trends such as electric vehicles.


"Illinois is the best place to not only live, work and do business but also visit,” said DCEO Director Kristin Richards. "This investment in Route 66 will boost Illinois’ tourism industry and local economies while investing in travelers by promoting EV destinations throughout Illinois.”



Grantee  

Award Amount

Project Description

Bloomington-Normal Area Convention & Visitors Bureau 

$180,400  

Support the research, design, and installation of murals in Lexington, Bloomington, and McLean. Support the installation of EV chargers in Normal and the creation of Route 66 Centennial signs. 

Choose Chicago    

$142,500 

Support the organizing efforts for the Route 66 Classic Car show and by developing tours in Chicago 

Discover Downstate Illinois  

$50,763  

Support the Celebration of Route 66 Festival, featuring the Midwest Drag Racing Series and various musical performances.   

Great Rivers & Routes Tourism Bureau    

$892,000  

Support the design, engineering, and installation of electric signs and EV stations along with renovations to the Ariston Cafe and a mural project at the Route 66 Skyview Drive.  

Great Rivers & Routes Tourism Bureau    

$600,000  

Support the Route 66 statewide marketing and promotions, including projects like the Route 66 Scenic Byway Visitors Guide, festivals, and more. 

Heritage Corridor Destinations  

$1,250,000 

Enhance Route 66 exhibits and museums, including signage, kiosk, and EV stations.  

Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau  

$232,000  

Development and installation of structures for the Illinois Fair Grounds Route 66 Experience. Enhance the World’s Largest Route 66 sign as well as the construction and installation of other classic neon signs throughout Springfield. Support the preservation of oral history and audio recordings for future Route 66 attractions and preservation efforts of the Lincoln Information Center.


Route 66 is one of the most famous roads in America, and it serves as an important historical and cultural symbol. Route 66 was designated in 1926 as part of the new numbered highway network and grew to be one of the most well-known and travelled highways. The construction of Route 66 helped make the Western part of the United States accessible to anyone with a car, while generating economic benefits for many communities along the Route.


"The historical and economic impacts of Route 66 are prominent across the state,” said Senate Assistant Majority Leader David Koehler (D-Peoria). "These investments play a critical role in our continued efforts to boost tourism across Illinois, while simultaneously showcasing our commitment to clean energy.”



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