NORMAL — Next summer's Route 66 travelers will have a new way to find historic sites in McLean County.
An archive of local attractions, buildings and other landmarks along "The Mother Road" will be compiled and published this year thanks to a group of local government partners and a $40,000 state grant.
"It's exciting. It's an opportunity to enhance tourism through McLean County and Bloomington-Normal as it relates to old 66," said Wayne Aldrich, Normal's public works director and a member of the committee overseeing the project.
"This is really a critical first step: What do we have out there, and doing appropriate research on these attractions," he said. "That may turn into other projects as we move forward."
Normal City Council will consider Monday signing off on the grant, which the town applied for through the Illinois Department of Transportation on behalf of McLean County Regional Planning Commission.
Other groups represented on the committee include the city of Bloomington, McLean County government, Bloomington-Normal Convention and Visitors Bureau and Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council.
"This grant anticipates an intern as well as a consultant to be brought on board, working with the staffs of county, city, regional planning, the town and other experts we've identified," said Aldrich. "Our experience is there are individuals or groups that research this type of thing, but what this is intended to be is a clearinghouse for that information."
Aldrich said the archive is likely to be published through the county's geographic information system, at mcgis.org, and may be available through other methods as well.
The archive may include Bloomington's Morris Avenue corridor, including Miller Park Zoo; Normal's Pine Street corridor, including the town-owned Sprague's Service Station historic site at 305 E. Pine St.; and the original Steak 'n Shake in Normal, now a Monical's Pizza at 1219 S. Main St.
You have free articles remaining.
"We're very hopeful to get some activity relative to old 66 countywide," said Normal Assistant City Manager Eric Hanson.
The historic route will mark its 100th anniversary in 2026. The Illinois Route 66 Centennial Commission was created by a new state law Jan. 1 to coordinate planning of centennial celebration events along the Illinois portion of the highway’s route from Chicago to St. Louis.
Normal City Council meets 7 p.m. Monday on the fourth floor at Uptown Station.
In other business, the council will:
It's not clear how much Brandt might get back from the state through the enterprise zone. That depends on how much Brandt spends on building materials for the expansion, part of $40 million in investment the company plans to make at the former Kongskilde plant.
• Seat new members Stan Nord and Karyn Smith. Nord and Smith finished first and third in the April 2 council election, respectively, and will serve four years alongside reelected incumbent Kathleen Lorenz.