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A recently installed sign in the Route 66 Roadside Park along College Street outlines the vision.SBJ photos by EMILY LETTERMAN
A recently installed sign in the Route 66 Roadside Park along College Street outlines the vision.

SBJ photos by EMILY LETTERMAN

Pop-up streetscape to showcase Route 66 corridor plans

Posted online
As downtown Springfield prepares to travel back in time for this weekend’s fifth annual Birthplace of Route 66 Festival, the city is preparing a glimpse into the future for festival visitors and residents.

A recently installed sign in the city’s roadside park along College Street outlines the vision, but city spokeswoman Cora Scott said visitors Friday night will get a bit more. Working with the Westside Neighborhood Association, the city’s planning and public works departments created a pop-up streetscape on the corner of Broadway and College streets.

Known as tactical urbanism – a collection of low-cost, temporary changes to the built environment, usually in cities, intended to improve local neighborhoods – Scott said the streetscape will help gives residents an idea of what’s to come.

“This is going to be a 3-D visual of the end product,” she said. “They’ve painted a section of the street and have elements including a mock clock tower.”

Scheduled to debut at 7 tonight, Assistant Director of Public Works Martin Gugel said the display was a relatively inexpensive project for the city.

“I'm not sure to the exact cost of the pop-up park, as most of the items – seating, barricades, etc. – were items and materials currently on hand,” he said via email. “The replica clock tower was constructed in-house, and I would estimate the materials cost around $700.

“The city will use it for promotion after the festival.”

Earlier this week, workers also installed a metal bike rack shaped into the words “Route 66” along the park sidewalk in honor of longtime city employee Ralph Rognstad, an avid cyclist who retired this spring after 27 years with the city.

“That was something the Springfield leadership team did for Ralph,” Scott said. “We promised him when he left it would be up for the festival.”

Part of the city’s redevelopment plans for the 12 miles of Route 66 that run through Springfield, the roadside park opened during last year’s festival with the iconic Red’s Giant Hamburg sign, a major landmark along the Mother Road.

Scott said the city’s next step is streetscape and infrastructure, including a metal gateway arch at Grant and College streets. Gugel said the city received two $250,000 grants from the Federal Highway Association last fall to begin the projects. The money is part of the Transportation Enhancement Program.

Construction is scheduled for late spring or early summer 2016.

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