City Councilor Jeannie Cue has spent years advocating for funding to develop Route 66 Village at 3770 Southwest Blvd.
Wednesday, she joined Mayor G.T. Bynum, Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell and dozens of local residents to celebrate the fruits of her labor.
They gathered under gray skies for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the Route 66 Village Station.
“I can’t go without thanking the people of the Route 66 Village that work every day … and everyone that is here who mow the lawn, paint the trains, that work on everything,” Cue said. “Because without our residents and our volunteers, this would not even be happening.”
The Route 66 Village Station will serve as a tourism information center. It includes a coffee bar, restrooms and a huge map of Route 66.
The brick structure was built to look like a Phillips 66 cottage-style gas station. The $550,000 project was paid for through the 2013 voter-approved Improve Our Tulsa package.
Pinnell noted that since taking office earlier this year he has attended three or four groundbreakings along Route 66 in Tulsa.
“We are building something pretty spectacular in the state when it comes to Route 66,” he said.
Speaking before the ribbon cutting, Pinnell stressed the importance of tourism, saying it plays a key role in economic development.
“Showing visible progress when it comes to Route 66 development is so important to keep the morale up,” Pinnell said. “It’s so important for economic development to make sure that we are promoting tourism in a city because it is the front door to all the rest of the economic development that we want to do.”
Mike Massey, a longtime volunteer and board member with the Route 66 Village Association, said there is still much work to be done at the village.
“Really, what people are looking at now is just the beginning,” he said.
Massey was instrumental in bringing train cars to the site.
In addition to the train cars and tourism station, the Route 66 Village also includes a huge replica of an oil derrick and three vintage pump jacks.
Massey said plans call for construction of a second gas station, and a 5,000-square-foot train station that would serve as a meeting space.
The design of the Phillips 66-style station that opened Wednesday is based on a 1920s or ‘30s gas station, Massey said.
The second one will be built to look like Phillips stations from the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s, he said.