U.S. Congressmen tour Illinois Route 66 to highlight new legislation

On Tuesday, April 18, U.S. Congressman Rodney Davis (13th District, Illinois) kicked off a two-day tour of Illinois Route 66 to highlight its significance and importance, and to draw attention to two new pieces of legislation. Illinois Representative Avery Bourne and Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway staff, Executive Director Bill Kelly and Assistant Director Geoff Ladd, accompanied Davis on Tuesday's portion of the tour. 


The Wildey Theatre marquee announced the Route 66 tour.

Tuesday's stops included Livingston, Litchfield, Carlinville, and Girard after a tour kick-off under the marquee of the historic Wildey Theatre in Edwardsville. In Edwardsville, City Administrator Tim Harr, Alton Regional CVB Executive Director Brett Stawar and staff, Wildey Theatre Manager Al Canal and staff, media, and yours truly attended the event.

Representative Davis took to the lectern at 10:00 a.m. and was presented with an Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway cap by Bill Kelly. Davis spoke of the historical significance of Route 66 and the economic impact of the famous highway, both during the historic era and now as a huge tourist attraction.


Rep. Rodney Davis spoke of the significance of Route 66.

"I am proud to have America's most iconic road run through the middle of my district and it's important we celebrate its history," said Davis. "From providing thousands of jobs during the Great Depression to transporting equipment and supplies for World War II to becoming a symbol of freedom and independence in the 1950s, Route 66 has been the 'road to opportunity' for millions of Americans throughout history and it continues to be a great economic driver for our state. Historical route 66 and the businesses located along it were responsible for thousands of jobs and millions in state and local revenue to support our communities. I look forward to celebrating the 100th anniversary of this iconic road in 2026."

In February, U.S. Representatives Davis (R-IL), Darin LaHood (R-IL), and Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA) introduced legislation to commemorate the historical significance of Route 66. H.R. 66 (appropriate number!) establishes a commission to recommend activities to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Route 66 in 2026. H.R. 801 establishes Route 66 as a National Historic Trail. The Route 66 Road Ahead Initiative has been working with Davis and LaHood.

At the Wildey, Representative Bourne also spoke of the historic significance of Route 66 and theater manager Al Canal related a Route 66 anecdote. Bourne is a sponsor of Illinois H.B. 66 to establish a Route 66 Centennial Commission. An official IDOT Historic Route 66 brown-and-white sign adorned the front of the lectern while the theater marquee touted the tour. Theater staff had plenty of theater popcorn and bottled water ready for everyone. Tuesday afternoon's issue of the Edwardsville Intelligencer carried a nice article about the event.


Wildey Theatre Manager Al Canal spoke about Route 66.

Today, Wednesday, Davis was joined on the second day of the tour by LaHood and by Illinois Representative Tim Butler for stops in Sangamon, Logan, and McLean Counties. Butler introduced H.B. 66, establishing a Route 66 Centennial Commission.