Route 66 preservationists attempt to pave the way for revitalization of Ribbon Road
Residents express concern about cost, logistics, long-term impact
MIAMI, Okla. – This stretch of Route 66 is known as the Ribbon Road. It’s the only remaining 9-foot section of original Route 66 pavement, but in most places, it’s hard to tell.
“Right now, the road a lot of it’s graveled over, the asphalt needs some work, you know, you can tell its used by a lot of industrial, farm traffic and agricultural traffic and things like that,” said Rhys Martin with the Oklahoma Route 66 Association.
It was built in 1922, just before U.S. 66 was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and it draw people from all over the world.
“A lot of tourists do come down that road and ask where it is, you know,” said Melvin Cook, a Miami resident who owns property along the road.
“They’re all excited about coming to this part, and when they come, it’s hard for them to find it and very, very difficult for them to ride on it in this condition and so we’re thinking that when it gets restored, we’re going to see a lot of tourism,” said Kristy Chance with the Ribbon Road Project.
Ottawa County officials want to see the area restored. There are currently four options on the table:
- OPTION #1: Widening- adds 16 feet to top width; keeps original concrete and asphalt section; rebuilds existing gravel shoulders into new gravel driving lanes on each side; adds new gravel shoulders to both sides
- OPTION #2: Widen one side- adds 26 feet to top width; keeps original concrete and asphalt section; keeps original gravel shoulders; adds two new gravel driving lanes to one side; adds new gravel shoulders to each side
- OPTION #3: Widen beyond existing- adds 26 feet to top width; keeps original concrete and asphalt section; keeps original gravel shoulders; adds new gravel driving lanes to each side; adds new gravel shoulders to each side
- OPTION #4: New Parallel Road- adds 46 feet to width; keeps original concrete and asphalt section; keeps original gravel shoulders; adds new gravel roadway separated by a drainage ditch
Those options are estimated to cost anywhere from $3.8 to 4 million dollars, with option four costing the most. Funds would come from the county and the Oklahoma Highway Department.
“The road’s centennial is in 2026. It’ll be 100-years-old as Route 66, and the thought that this is gonna be restored and available for people to appreciate is wonderful,” said Martin.
While there’s a lot of support for preserving the road, there’s a lot of ideas about the right way to do it. There’s also concern from some residents with land along the Ribbon Road, worried about imminent domain coming into play, but officials say that’s a final resort and a long ways down the road.
No final decision was reached regarding which option the county would pursue, but the study will continue.