Exciting Route 66 Job Opportunities
Will Involve Local Cooperation
Some communities are lacking leadership to take advantage.
Barstow appears ready to maximize its full opportunities.
Posted: August 1, 2014
The Newberry Springs Community Alliance has been involved with the
California Historic Route 66 Association (CHR66A) in assisting as a liaison with the
communities of Daggett and Newberry Springs regarding the Route 66's economic opportunities.
The two organizations are part of a much larger movement that is currently
working to expand economic development along Route 66's roadway through eight states.
By fostering an economic revival through heritage tourism, preservation, and restoration of
cultural landmarks, the movement is hoping to develop jobs and provide a rebirth to declining
communities through the stimulus of multi-tasking Route 66 marketing.
The CHR66A represents Route 66 within California and is
currently working closely with the Bureau of Land Management on the development
of a Corridor Management Plan (CMP) for the federal establishment of a 153-mile
National Scenic Byway designation for Route 66 between the Colorado River and
the western boundary of Barstow. The CMP has the support of the U.S.
Department of Transportation (DOT), the National Park Service, state, county,
local municipalities, and a number of organizations.
This CMP corridor segment is very special. It represents a
very rare opportunity for visitors to travel Route 66 and experience much of the same
scenery and roadbed experienced by those fleeing the Dust Bowl and the economic woes
of 80 years ago.
Many tourists are drawn to drive Route 66
and experience the luring mystical spirit of the road; and the route between 'The River'
and Barstow has maintained much of its original fabled aura.
Of great help to the various eight state organizations supporting
Route 66 has been the World Monuments Fund (WMF)
placing Route 66 surprisingly upon their World Monuments Watch List in 2008. Through the
WMF, American Express provided a generous grant to Rutgers University (the State University
of New Jersey) to research and develop an in-depth economic study of the entire route that
has been a very helpful reference in developing the current California CMP.
The World Monuments Fund, based in New York City, in November 2013
sponsored a special conference at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim that was titled
Route 66: The Road Ahead. The conference was attended by invitees like
CHR66A and other various state groups and major Route 66 participants from Illinois to
California. The conference was centered upon the signature manifest of Disney's Cars
Land and how to publicly better market the adventure, excitement and history of
Historic Route 66.
Local Communities - Needles to Barstow
The forthcoming National Scenic Byway will open up significant
opportunities for communities along the scenic route to economically benefit.
Many years of work, by many people, have lead to this point. However, for the benefits
to be realized, local leaders must embrace the opportunity.
Barstow's civic leaders are following the plan and are expected to take advantage by
capitalizing upon it. Needles on the other hand, appears to be missing the boat
by sitting back and expecting a free hand-out.
Yes, increased numbers of people will be passing through Needles due
to the National Scenic Byway designation; but to truly benefit, Needles needs to maximize
its opportunities to prosper by engaging it. This can be done by preparing attractions
that lure visitors to spend more time within their community. With more Route 66
attractions that grab the interest of visitors, the more time that those visitors will
be spending and supporting the local economy.
Of critical importance is vehicular signage announcing and directing
vehicles from Interstate-40 to Needles's
Historic Route 66 Business Loop; with highly
visible placards or monuments at places of interest.
Needles's prime attraction, which opened this year, is the
fully remodeled El Garces Hotel building that was
once the Crown Jewel of all the Fred Harvey railway hospitality facilities.
Built in 1908, the hotel and restaurant was closed in 1949; but the building remained an Amtrak
ticketing site until 1988. It was then vacant and in disrepair until the city
undertook the renovation of the entire structure.
The building will now serve as an intermodal transportation
facility and have office spaces available for lease. As shown in the adjacent picture
taken late last February while the building was still under renovation, the city failed to hold
true to the building's historical facade by unfortunately installing new present-day doors
and windows. The station is one block from Route 66.
Further to the west, Newberry Springs and Daggett haven't demonstrated
any community leadership that would attract the benefits of this fantastic
opportunity of a National Scenic Byway designation. In fact, the people in Newberry
Springs (with county government support) have recently
their Route 66 corridor and have weakened the community's position to prosper.
The completion of the CMP and submission to the DOT for approval
is expected about this time next year which doesn't leave much time for community planning
While some smart places will likely blossom from this Route 66
opportunity; others will continue to wither. Like a garden, economic growth
requires nourishment and work. Communities too lazy to put in
any effort, will not harvest the jobs, and will go hungry.
For more information on the Corridor Management Plan, contact Doran Sanchez
at the BLM Barstow Field Office: (760) 252-6030. For CMP participation information for
Daggett or Newberry Springs, contact the Newberry Springs Community Alliance at:
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