Pritzker announces $3 million investment in Route 66 preservation, modernization projects

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — More than $3 million in state funding is going toward preserving and modernizing historic Route 66 in Illinois.

Governor J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Economic Opportunity announced on Wednesday that they would be awarding six different organizations a total of seven awards. Some of those organizations maintain and renovate attractions and host events along Route 66. Others are modernizing the historic route to accommodate electric vehicles.

“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,” Pritzker said. “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.”

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Pritzker and DCEO officials said the grants will help bolster tourism, education and promotion of Route 66 while prioritizing the needs of future travelers. This comes as Route 66 approaches the 100th anniversary of its creation.

“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.”

The following projects were named as the recipients of Pritzker and the DCEO’s awards:


Award Amount

Project Description

Bloomington-Normal Area Convention & Visitors Bureau


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


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

Discover Downstate Illinois


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

Great Rivers & Routes Tourism Bureau


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


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

Heritage Corridor Destinations


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

Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau


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.

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