Subsidizing, and Targeting, the Mother Road

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Errors of Enchantment hopes to see readers tomorrow on Central Avenue in the Duke City, for the classic-car cruise to stop Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART).

Many aspects of ART are maddening and frustrating, but one may be fiercest of all: the fact that government, at all levels, is working to preserve the history of Route 66.

At a presentation in Rio Rancho last week, the National Park Service’s Kaisa Barthuli described the many ways Washington has sought to keep the memory of the Mother Road alive. In 1990, the Route 66 Study Act authorized “a study on methods to commemorate the nationally significant highway.” Nine years later, the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Act charged the Department of the Interior with facilitating “the development of guidelines and a program of technical assistance and grants that will set priorities for the preservation of the Route 66 corridor.” In the last decade and a half, federal taxpayers have “contributed” millions of dollars to match private giving aimed at protecting historical buildings and structures along highway. Local and state governments play roles, too — the City of Albuquerque has a “Route 66 Action Plan,” which explores “several revitalization concepts aimed at improving the atmosphere, infrastructure, and economic opportunities within the 15 miles along Central Avenue.”

Both lawsuits filed against ART have, wisely, highlighted the impact the boondoggle-in-the-making will have on Route 66’s heritage.

So if you’re attending the classic-car cruise, have a blast. But remember that as a taxpayer, you’re providing funds to both support and threaten Route 66 history.

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