Chapter Five Management
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Chapter Five
Preservation and Management Strategies


The goal of this chapter will be to examine possible strategies to manage the listed and eligible historic properties along Route 66 in Oklahoma.  Throughout this chapter it is important to keep in mind two points.  First, historic properties are eligible for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places when they have enough integrity to communicate or convey their significance (National Register Bulletin 15: 44).  This is important.  Lack of maintenance and neglect of a historic resource will eventually affect its integrity. 

Second, highway improvement projects need to safely integrate the design into the surrounding natural, human, and historic environment (Flexibility in Highway Design page xi).  In other words flexibility in design is essential in working with historic highways.  Straightening a curve to accommodate vehicles traveling at higher speeds should be rethought. Posting and enforcing lower speed limits will allow a community to maintain the character of a historic road in its community.  In most cases, higher speeds on local and state roads is not in character with the needs of surrounding communities which have been built along a road where lower speeds were the norm. 

            There are three very important documents that all planners, designers, and preservation advocates need to be aware:  the FHWA publication Flexibility in Highway Design; AASHTO publication A Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets, also known as the Green Book; and AASHTO publication Guidelines for Geometric Design of Very Low-Volume Local Roads (ADT £ 400). These three documents contain information for design changes on roads and bridges. 

            The most important of these three and the one that addresses the issues brought up in this study is the last.  It has just been issued by AASHTO and incorporates issues raised in the first volume Flexibility in Highway Design with the policies and guidelines outlines in the second A Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets.   Its appearance is very timely for issues raised in this report. 

            As outlined in Chapter Two and documented in Table Two: Matrix of Threats we collected information on traffic volume on all roadbed and bridge resources encountered during the course of our investigations.  It should be noted, however, that observations were made by the study team during a week in March and a week in July of 2002.   Our observations were purely subjective and anecdotal.   The study team was unable to acquire official traffic counts for any of these resources. Later in this chapter we will recommend that traffic counts be taken for each resource on a regularly scheduled basis. Without any other data, however, we will proceed with our observations. 

Our anecdotal evidence does suggests that except for the Horse Creek Bridge, roadbed and bridge resources investigated in this study experience light to moderate traffic volumes. This information is important.  The Guidelines for Geometric Design of Very Low-Volume Local Roads (ADT £ 400) defines low volume roads as follows: 

A very low-volume road is a road that is functionally classified as a local road and has a design average daily traffic volume of 400 vehicles per day or less (AASHTO 2001:1). 

The roadbed and bridge resources discussed here fall within this definition of a low volume road.   

These new AASHTO guidelines for low-volume local roads encourage designers to be more flexible when dealing with scenic and historic roads that fall into this category.

 Even more flexibility than for new construction projects is provided to the designer for projects on existing roads….  The designer is discouraged at most   sites from making unnecessary geometric design and roadside improvements, but is encouraged to look for evidence of site-specific safety problems and to focus safety expenditures on those sites where a site-specific safety problems exists that is potentially correctable by a specific roadway or roadside improvement (AASHTO 2001:16).


The guidelines go on to outline more detail specifications for measuring safety problems on roadway and bridge resources.


We encourage planners, designers, and regulators to examine these new AASHTO guidelines before planning any changes to eligible segments and integral structures discussed here.  In particular, resources classified as Moderately Threatened and Least Threatened in Chapter Four should not be subject to any design change.

            One note of omission needs to be made here.  The reader will notice that there is no discussion of the Section 106 process as a preservation strategy for Route 66 in Oklahoma. The Section 106 process has been in place for over thirty years now and is the main tool used by Federal Agencies and the State Historic Preservation Officers to identify, evaluate, and mitigate the adverse effects undertakings can have on historic resources.  Though a valuable tool the end result of many Section 106 reviews of historic resources is to document and remove or radically modify the resource.   This would be unacceptable with a resource like Route 66.  The road is the resource and once it loses its integrity or ability to communicate its historic significance we no longer have “Historic Route 66.”             

            An appropriate analogy would be useful here.  If you take an eligible civil war battle field and build a subdivision and shopping center upon it you no longer have a civil war battle field.  It no longer conveys the feeling and sense of place where an important historic event took place.  If you widen the road, change its cross-section and replace the bridges you will have the corridor upon which Route 66 once sat, but you will not have the “Historic Road.” 

            It is the opinion of this evaluation team that preservation strategies must “pre-empt” the Section 106 process.  It is important that historic road advocates move toward other strategies and resort if necessary to advocating for legislative  or statutory action on the state and local level. 


Oklahoma Strategies and Activities 

            We have a number of very specific recommendations and strategies for the resources ranked in our three-tiered system.  Before we make these recommendations we would like to explore some more general recommendations and strategies for all the resources within the route.  In addition some of these general strategies will be referred to as a specific remedy for a threatened resource later in this discussion.  Consequently, we will present the more general first. 



Activities to Implement Strategies

Unified management strategy





Treat Historic Route 66 and its historic resources as parts of a whole.  This would allow for more informed decisions about repair and maintenance. This would allow for long-term management solutions instead of crisis management.

Develop a “Route 66” Historic Advisory Council composed of appropriate state and local government officials and citizen advocacy groups.


Develop a proposal for funding from one or a combination of the following sources: the next round of transportation enhancements; the Transportation Research Board (TRB); and the Route 66 Coordinator Preservation Program.


Educate local road and county highway commissions on new AASTO Guidelines for Design on Low Volume Rural Roads.


Develop a Programmatic Agreement with County Highway Boards of Commissioners to address ongoing repair and maintenance needs.


Community Involvement

To give local community and advocacy groups a role in protecting historic resources.  Many communities groups have emotional attachment to historic resources.  This type of community pride and identification with historic resources should be encouraged.  It can also assist the preservation community in advocacy and lobbying activities.

Establish “Route 66 Adopt a Resource Program.” This program would enroll local groups like high school history clubs or historical societies to clean up and monitor the resource on a regular basis.  The Oklahoma Route 66 Association or similar organization could spearhead this type of activity.


Annual Oklahoma Route 66 Conference or a roundtable at annual statewide preservation conference where town representatives and “Chamber of Commerce” representatives are invited to participate. (Having the National Park Service Involved and actually issuing the invitations could increase attendance). Prominent business owners along Route 66 should be invited to provide information how the “economic advantages” of maintaining Route 66 related businesses and resources.

Get the Oklahoma Dept. of Tourism involved in Route 66 issues.  Route 66 cuts across the state and connects communities and tourist attractions both historic and otherwise in a way no other road in the region can.


Advocates and community groups develop a “lobbying strategy” to get appropriate agencies to fund repair and maintenance.


Develop workshops and programs to inform and educate the public about the importance of Route 66 in Oklahoma History.  This might be done as a joint venture between the various state agencies (Historical Society and Tourism) with the support of local communities (Chambers of Commerce or local Tourism Councils.)


Short term maintenance needs of various eligible resources along Route 66

To encourage local government entities that own or have jurisdiction over historic resources along Route 66 to repair and maintain them on a regular basis

Work with county officials, legislators, and ODOT to secure funding for repair and maintenance


Develop working relationship with Route 66 Association constituents in each county.  They may be the most effective tool in lobbying county highway officials for maintenance and improvement.


Develop a schedule with local county highway commissions to set up “traffic counters” at critical points along Route 66 - particularly near eligible or listed properties.


Preservation Strategies: Immediately Threatened Resources 

            In the previous chapters we outlined some very specific threats to listed and eligible resources along Historic Route 66 in Oklahoma.  In this portion of the report we would like to present some specific strategies to assist in the preservation of resources that have been ranked as “Immediately Threatened.” We have chosen to address these individual because of the fragile condition an impeding threats we find to each of these.  It should be noted that all recommendations imply discussion with the State Historic Preservation Officers to make sure that all applications and repair materials meet the Secretary of the Interior Standards for Rehabilitation of Historic Properties.


Resource Name

Preservation Strategies

Miami Original Nine Foot Segment (Resources 5,6,7)

(1)    Remove all gravel road surface with a street sweeper.  Keeping this road surface clean and free of material will radically reduce damage historic surface.

(2)    After consulting AASHTO “Low-Volume Road Guidelines” negotiate with SHPO a reasonable expansion of shoulders to allow vehicles to pass each other safely.  Shoulder should be widened to allow for vehicles to pass safely and not to create a roadway for two-way traffic.

(3)    Traffic volume should be measured on a regular basis and shared with SHPO.

(4)    Partnership between county, state, and Route 66 association should be explored to fund an enhancement project.  Specifically the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training should be contacted.  This segment of road would fit well into one of their project categories – especially if it involves teaming data gathering on resource usage and problem solving strategies on maintaining the historic road in a modern road use environment.

Horse Creek Bridge (Resource 8)

(1)    Reduce speed limit on this bridge.

(2)    Install “reduce-speed bumps” or similar road surface impediments at appropriate distance before approach of the bridge.  This should be done for both the eastern and the western approach.

(3)    Weight restrictions should be implemented.

(4)    Traffic volume should be measured on a regular basis and shared with SHPO.

(5)    A study should be conducted on suggesting alternative routes for semi tractor-trailer truck traffic.

Bridge over Rock Creek (Resource 26)

(1)    Take immediate steps to clean structure and deck.

(2)    Repair damaged and rusting supports.

(3)    Weight restrictions should be implemented.

(4)    Install “reduce-speed bumps” or similar road surface impediments at appropriate distance before approach of the bridge.  This should be done for both the eastern and the western approach.

(5)    Traffic volume should be measured on a regular basis and shared with SHPO.

(6)    This bridge should be on the top of a priority list for enhancement money on the next round.

(7)    Make this a candidate for the “adopt a resource program.”

Bridge over Spunky Creek (Resource 18)


Little Deep Fork Creek Bridge (Resource 37)


Bridge of Dosie Creek (Resource 47)



(1)    Take immediate steps to clean structure and repair wooden deck.

(2)    Repair worn and damaged rails.

(3)    Post and enforce weight restrictions.

(4)    Make this a candidate for the “adopt a resource program.”

(5)    Traffic volume should be measured on a regular basis and shared with SHPO.

Rock Island Viaduct (Resource 61)

(1) Engage a bridge engineer to assess the structural integrity of the viaduct.

(2)  Repair worn and damaged rails.

(3)  Repair, reinforce and restore support structures.


Bridge over Unnamed Creek (Resource 77)

(1)    Take immediate steps to prevent creek from undermining west abutment.

(2)    Repair support areas damaged by erosion.


Preservation Strategies: Moderately Threatened Resources 

            Resources in this category are not immediately threatened.  As outlined in Chapter Three, however, they are experiencing conditions that, over time, will have serious affects upon their historic integrity.  Acknowledging this fact, it is necessary to work toward implementing preservation strategies that will ameliorate the threats.  

Resource Name

Preservation Strategies

Bridge over Little Cabin Creek (Resource 10)

Pryor Creek Bridge (Resource 12)

Lake Overholser Bridge

(Resource 37)

Bridge over Cabin Creek (Resource 50)

Concrete Box Bridge (Resource 66)

Canadian River Bridge

(Resource 71)

Bridge West of Bridgeport

(Resource 74)

Bridge over White Canyon Creek (Resource 75)

Bridge over Dead Woman Creek (Resource 76)

Bridge over Cedar Canyon Creek (Resource 78)

Bridge East of Hydro (Resource 79)

Bridge West of Hydro (Resource 80)

Tiber Creek Bridge (Resource 109)

1)      Establish firm speed limit restrictions on the approaches of each of these bridge resources.

2)      Appropriate materials need to be used on the decking of each of these bridges.

3)      Inappropriate overlay and patching materials should be removed and replaced with materials sympathetic to the original decking materials.


Ozark Trail Marker (Resource 46)

Acadia Roadbed (Resource 54)

Roadbed west of Supulpa (Resource 27)

Tank Farm Loop (Resource 31)

Tank Farm Loop (Resource 32)

Bridge over Salt Creek (Resource 43)

1)      Each of these resources should be enrolled in “The Route 66 Adopt a Resource” program.

2)      The parties responsible for care and maintenance of the Ozark Trail Marker should be definitively established.

3)      Ozark Trail Marker should have a small (no more than 3 feet high) “cast iron” fence around the triangular parcel it rests upon.  This would afford some protection.

4)      The Oklahoma SHPO might look into working with the private owner of Tank Farm Loop (Resource 32) work out a preservation easement that could be donated either to Preservation Oklahoma, Inc. and/or to the State Historical Society and/or other appropriate organization.

Trestle East of Weatherford (Resource 81)

1)      Establish ownership of this resource and their intensions for this rail spur.

2)      Investigate incorporating this resource into a bike or similar trail.

Eleventh Street Arkansas Bridge (Resource 22)

This resource has a great deal of potential for community recreation – particularly for use in a city-wide bike trail system.  Unfortunately, this resource was not considered as integral in the footprint of the current bike-trail system. SHPO might insist that future planning for parks and recreation in the City of Tulsa address the preservation and use of this resource in foot or bike path recreational activities.  It could also serve as a central point for interpretive “kiosks” for Route 66 resource in Tulsa and the surrounding areas.  Resource that cannot be used for their original purpose should be treated as “artifacts.” Though it no longer serves its original function it should be treated as a valuable item and displayed as such for education and informative purposes.


Preservation Strategies: Least Threatened Resources 

            Resources in this category are essentially in very good condition and appear to be safe from any immediate threat.  This could change.   Consequently, we have some recommendations for the long-term welfare of each. 

Resource Name

Preservation Strategies

Pedestrian Underpass in El Reno

(Resource 63)

This resource is in excellent condition, but should be enlisted in a “Oklahoma Route 66 Adopt a Resource” program. It appears to require a clean up and some attention!

US 281 Spur
(Resource 69)

Foyil Road
(Resource 14)

Twin Bridges over Bird Creek (Resource 15) Roadbed West of El Reno (Resource 65) Roadbed West of Canadian River Bridge (Resource 70)
Powder Face Creek Bridge(Resource 67)
Bridge over Unnamed Creek (Resource 68)
Bridge over Unnamed Creek (Resource 72)
Bridge West of Hinton (Resource 73)
Roadbed east of I-40 in Custer County (Resource 85)
Roadbed west of I-40 in Custer County (Resource 96)
Roadbed west of Elk City (Resource 108)


Traffic counts should be taken for these resources.  In addition these resources could use some attention to maintenance.

Rail Road Trestle – Rock Island Line (Resource 64)

This resource is active and well maintained by the rail road.  Needs no attention at this time.


General Recommendations 

            There are important types of information needed for planning and management of the resources examined in this document that were unavailable.  Consequently, we would like to make some general recommendations.  First, a qualified bridge engineer should make assessments of each bridge.  The assessments should include information on the load bearing capacity of the bridge, a rating on its present structural strength, and prioritized list of tasks needed to keep the bridge in excellent working condition.  AASHTO recommends that bridges of historic significance be left in place. Speed limits, weight limits, and other external traffic factors be adjusted to meet the needs of preserving the bridge (AASHTO Green Book 2001: 389). 

            In addition, information on the effects of weathering on roads and bridges in Oklahoma would have proved very helpful.  If this information does exist we were unable to acquire it during the course of this investigation.  Similarly, it would be helpful if information did exist on the best materials to use in patching and maintaining road surfaces, bridge decks, and bridge structures.  If similar studies are planned by ODOT it would help to gather this specific information for Route 66 resources.  

            “Heritage Area” legislation is now pending in congress.  Depending on the outcome this could be an important source of funding.  As this legislation progresses the Oklahoma Historical Society and the Oklahoma Department of Tourism should look into designating Route 66 in Oklahoma as a Heritage Area to qualify for funding of specific resource and preservation related projects. 

            It would be important to develop a relationship with the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT).  The fund resource specific projects that employ current and cutting edge methods and technology to preserving historic resources.  As mentioned in our discussion of the Miami Segment (Resource #5), the ODOT could apply for funding to experiment with application of sympathetic materials to the original pavement or for solving the problem of modern traffic on very narrow pavement.   

Another type of project NCPTT would fund would involve the Route 66 Association and Education.  The Route 66 Association in conjunction with the Oklahoma Historical Society and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation could apply for funding to sponsor a “by invitation only” conference where engineers throughout the State would be invited to present papers or roundtable discussion addressing pavement and deck treatment on historic highways.  This could be expanded to address historic bridge issues.  It would be an excellent opportunity to educate the engineering community on the value of historic highways. 


Final Remarks 

            Two points should be made in closing.  First, the most important tool available in working with state and local highway agencies is the new AASHTO design guidelines for low volume local roads.  The guidelines coupled with existing preservation laws can effect the preservation of significant historic roadbeds and related resources along Route 66 in Oklahoma. 

            Second, the most important tool in preserving these historic resources is to design programs that build in community involvement.  In the discussion above, we encouraged the establishment of the “Route 66 Adopt a Resource” program.  Our objective here is to involve community groups along the Route 66 corridor.  Route 66 has become important to us because of grass roots activism by local Route 66 Associations across the country.  Oklahoma is fortunate enough to have members of its Route 66 Association with a sophisticated understanding of historic resources and the ability to recognize and document them.   

            We are suggesting that programs be developed to build upon this base.  An “Adopt a Resource” program where awards can be given to local “adopters” and workshops held during the statewide historic preservation conference would be an excellent start.  We are sure that once in place such a program would grow in scope and activities well beyond any suggestions we could make today. 

            Route 66 is one of the most valuable tourism resources in the State of Oklahoma.  According to Ms. Pat Smith, director of the Route 66 Museum in Clinton, Oklahoma over 35,000 people visit the museum annually.  Attendance is over 200 per day during the busy season.  These types of numbers are similar to those this investigation team encountered in the State of Illinois.  They suggest that there is considerable interest both on the local and national level for driving the highway.  Unfortunately, there are no data has been collected yet on the impact Route 66 has on the economy of the towns through which it passes. 

            Few tourism resources, however, cover such large sweeps of landscape as does Route 66 in Oklahoma.  Its potential for heritage tourism and a source of revenue for business along the route are limitless.  It is a resource that needs attention not only for its nostalgic value, but more importantly, for its ability to engage the imagination of future generations and remain, as it was and is, source of economic stimulation.