CAN OLD U.S. 27 BECOME THE NEW ROUTE 66? MAYBE…

It has been called “The Main Street of America” and “The Mother Road.” Perhaps no other highway in the United States is as famous or loved as “Route 66.” You can start in Chicago and take it all the way to Los Angeles — with a multitude of pleasant motoring adventures in between.

Could our own old U.S. 27 be transformed into something similar? Members of the Indiana General Assembly think so. I was pleased to join my colleague, Sen. Tom Wyss, in co-sponsoring a concurrent resolution that urges the department of transportation to designate old U.S. 27 as a national historic road.

The road stretches from northern Michigan all the way to sunny southern Florida, and 175 miles of it runs along Indiana’s eastern border. I believe this road could become a most pleasant summer vacation drive. The tourism and historic possibilities are certainly there.

While interstates are a wonderful way to travel when you’re in a hurry, thoroughfares like Route 66 have character that thrill the vacationer who has time to spare. Roads like this make the journey as enjoyable as the final destination. Meanwhile, for the communities that are located on the highway, new life is pumped into their economies. As tourists pass through, they stop to eat, shop or buy gasoline and groceries.

They also learn unforgettable parts of history and meet interesting people.

Before the completion of I-75, U.S. 27 was a more important route, a main highway that connected Indiana and Michigan.

This resolution had broad bipartisan support, as members of both parties see this as a unique opportunity. In addition to Republican Reps. Richard Dodge, Randy Borror, Bill Davis, Tom Knollman, Phyllis Pond and Tom Saunders, the measure was also co-authored by Democrat Reps. Phil GiaQunita and Win Moses.

Like the road itself, I’m sure there will be twists and turns, hills and valleys in establishing it as a tourist destination. Such was the case with Route 66, which was a major path of migrants who went west, especially during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Many communities along the highway prospered, some to such an extent that they fought to keep the highway alive even with the coming of a new Interstate Highway System. Even though U.S. 66 was officially decommissioned on June 27, 1985, because it was no longer “relevant,” it is still a popular route not because of its asphalt and concrete, but because of its character.

I like to think there’s room and purpose for both our interstate highways and roads like old U.S. 27. The two thoroughfares now have distinctly different purposes, and both will be in demand for a long time to come.

We live in such a fast-paced society today. Everyone seems to be in such a rush. That’s why a resolution like this is refreshing, because it’s good for us all to slow down once in awhile, to rediscover the beauty of Indiana’s hidden treasures, to talk with a friendly neighbor down the road.

During a legislative session that’s been highlighted in part by talk of brand new roads like the Commerce Connector and the Illiana Expressway, I was pleased to be a part of an effort to preserve and enhance the historic roads that helped make us who we are. My hope is that this will only gain momentum in the months and years ahead.

 

Please contact me at State Senator Dennis Kruse, Indiana Senate, 200 W. Washington Street, Indianapolis, IN 46204 or call 1-800-382-9467, or send e-mail to S14@in.gov. Senate District 14 • Serving portions of Allen, DeKalb and Steuben Counties

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