ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – A construction contract worth nearly $10 million has been awarded to an Albuquerque-based company to build the Route 66 Visitors Center on the western edge of the city along the historic roadway. Bernalillo County commissioners approved the contract with Enterprise Builders on Tuesday.
“The Route 66 Visitor Center is a project that has been 29 years in the making,” Commission Vice Chair Steven Michael Quezada said in a statement. “I’m so glad to see the construction getting ready to start on this long-awaited community-led project on the southwest mesa.”
The visitors center is a collaborative effort between the county, the city of Albuquerque and local stakeholders. The project will include a museum, a tap room, office space and outdoor amphitheater.
Albuquerque is home to the longest urban stretch of Route 66. As home to some of the city’s most prominent arts and culture attractions, officials have said it serves as a critical driver of small business and job creation.
One of the first roads in the U.S. highway system, Route 66 spanned more than 2,400 miles (3,862 kilometers) and ran through eight states.
Known as the “Mother Road,” it was created in 1926 after the Bureau of Public Roads launched the nation’s first federal highway system, bringing together existing local and state roads from Chicago through St. Louis to Los Angeles. Small towns opened shops, motels and gas stations to pump revenue into local economies just as the nation’s car culture took off.
County officials said the West Central Community Development Group is working on an exhibit masterplan for the visitor center to include museum quality artwork that will support the mission of education and outreach.