Lincoln Highway looking for more attention
Friday, March 28, 2014 12:02 AM
Officials with the Ohio Lincoln Highway Association have a discussion with State Senator Cliff Hite about the historic route. The association representatives are hoping for some state assistance to promote and market the highway. (Submitted photo)
VAN WERT —Will Ohio treat the Lincoln Highway with as much respect as other states? That is the hope as representatives of several chapters of the Ohio Lincoln Highway Association (OLHA) met this week with St. Sen. Cliff Hite to discuss what can be done.
Larry Lee of the Western Ohio Chapter of the Lincoln Highway Association explained that goals were established when the Western Ohio Chapter joined with the Mid-Ohio and the Eastern Ohio chapters last year.
“One of the things we saw as missing was good signage for the Lincoln Highway,” he related. “Van Wert County is pretty well covered, but if you get into the counties to east of us, the Historic Byway markers are pretty sparse. The Ohio Department of Transportation, well it’s a real struggle to work through their bureaucracy to get money or signs to put up. So one of the goals we established was to find a way to better mark the highway across the state.”
He added that another goal was to find ways to promote the highway both as an economic value to the area and in the area of travel and tourism.
With a meeting last Tuesday in Columbus, Van Wert County acting Economic Development Director Sarah Smith joined Hite and several officials from the OLHA for a discussion about the highway.
“We talked about several possibilities. One of them is Sen. Hite is going to have a proclamation of the 100th year of the highway. That will be presented in Columbus,” said Lee. “He also talked about trying to find some dollars for the Ohio Lincoln Highway Association. Those dollars would be earmarked for more signage, both for the current route, and for the 1913 route that went down through Lima and Kenton and Ada, and that way. We would seek to get signage for those earlier routes of the Lincoln Highway as well.”
Lee noted that he really had no idea of how much money could be available in the next state budget. The Ohio Legislature is preparing for the Mid-Term Budget Review in May, and according to Lee, Hite talked about trying to include a line item for the OLHA either during the current review or in legislation this fall.
“We see this as a major step forward in both economic development of the Lincoln Highway, and also the travel and tourism end of it,” declared Lee. “We know we get a lot of people through here traveling the Lincoln Highway. We got a lot especially last year for the centennial. Every year we get people stopping and asking about the highway and where to go and what to see. Up until now, it’s been whatever counties and local organizations have been able to do as far as highlighting the highway. This would be a major step forward if we could get into the Ohio budget and have money earmarked for marking and marketing the highway again.”
The nation’s first transcontinental highway turned 100 last year and its history was celebrated from Times Square in New York to San Francisco’s Lincoln Park. Local efforts to remember the route and its importance to the country have been strong, but statewide, Lee believes more attention is warranted.
He said, “The highway is something that Ohio has, and the states all around us have made a big priority of the Lincoln Highway, but Ohio hasn’t. It’s time we step up and do that.”