Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity have announced $4 million in grant awards for various projects across the state designed to spur tourism, bolster educational opportunities, and support an increase of Electric Vehicle travel – which will create and modernize attractions along Route 66 leading up to the 100th Anniversary of the road. This grant was awarded to Heritage Corridor CVB, Great Rivers and Routes CVB, Visit Oak Park CVB, and Springfield CVB for innovative projects that span Route 66 throughout the state.
Projects include: the installation of EV charging stations along Route 66 in Berwyn, Pontiac, and Wilmington; an interactive Virtual Reality exhibit designed to highlight the experience of Black Americans living or traveling along Route 66 in Springfield; transforming a service station into a Route 66 Visitors Center in Edwardsville; and a statewide Route 66 marketing campaign.
With more than 300 miles of Route 66 in Illinois from its starting point in Chicago to the Chain of Rocks Bridge, Route 66’s economic and historical impact is woven into the fabric of communities across the state. Route 66 is one of the most famous roads in America, and it serves as an important historical and cultural symbol. Route 66 was designated in 1926 as part of the new numbered highway network and grew to be one of the most well-known and travelled highways. The construction of Route 66 helped make the Western part of the United States accessible to anyone with a car, while generating economic benefits for many communities along the Route.
“I’m absolutely thrilled about being awarded a Route 66 Grant from DCEO. As we prepare for the centennial anniversary of Route 66 in 2026, I’m excited this grant program will allow for domestic and international marketing, new exhibits and roadside attractions along The First Hundred Miles, creation of a new Route 66 Welcome Center in Joliet, and EV stations in two both Wilmington and Pontiac. Both cities are popular stops along Illinois Route 66 and these new EV charging stations will allow visitors to linger longer by shopping, dining, and exploring while charging their EV on their iconic road trip experience.”- Robert Navarro, President & CEO, Heritage Corridor Convention and Visitors Bureau