June 27, 1985 – US Route 66 was officially “decertified” on this date by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and all signs denoting the route ordered to be taken down.
US Route 66 was originally designated in 1926, and eventually stretched 2200 miles from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California. The meandering route through the western American wilderness was first laid out in 1857 by U.S. Navy Lieutenant Edward Beale at the head of a caravan of camels. It took until the early 20th century for road building technology to advance to the level whereby a paved surface of 4″ of Portland Cement could be poured consistently, economically, and continuously. The State Of Illinois passed a resolution to begin paving the Illinois route from Chicago, through Springfield, to St. Louis, Missouri in March of 1921. Specifications for the quality and thickness of the Portland Cement surface placed on top of the previous mud/dirt and or gravel road were based on research conducted in the vicinity of Bates, Illinois (a few miles west of the State Capital, Springfield). The resulting specifications became the standard for road paving nationwide in the early 1920s. The engineers and scientists responsible for the Bates Highway tests were housed in the Bates Motel when they were on-site. (No reports of mummified mommies were ever made… think Alfred Hitchcock)
Current Site of Bates Motel, on Old Rte. 54, Bates, IL.
The reliance of the growing private motoring public and the commercial truck-transport industry on the US Route system significantly interconnected the entirety of the continental United States on a grand scale. By the 1950s, further transportation research and development lead to the birth of the US Interstate infrastructure. This saw the construction of new, high-speed, 4-lane, controlled access highways that diverted around, over, or through cities and towns without the need for traffic to slow down or stop.
Although Route 66 was decertified, it is estimated by the National Historic Route 66 Federation, drivers can still use 85 percent of old Route 66. Springfield, Illinois still promotes its connection to Route 66 in a big way…