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Route 66 project launched to redevelop abandoned gas stations, clean up underground tank sites

Release Date: 01/26/2006
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, (415) 947-4297

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality will hold public meetings in Winslow and Holbrook, Ariz. to stimulate redevelopment and cleanup at abandoned gas stations and leaking underground storage tank sites along historic Route 66.

Arizona contains more than 200 miles of original Route 66 roadway with approximately 350 leaking underground storage tanks sites along the route. In June 2004, ADEQ launched its Route 66 Initiative to investigate and clean up leaking underground tank sites. To date, 250 sites have been closed, with cleanup completed or not needed. Nearly 100 sites, or 28 percent, still need further investigation or cleanup.

Redevelopment at many sites has been slow and many abandoned gas stations remain idle. The EPA and ADEQ have partnered to explore viable options to stimulate redevelopment along Arizona’s Route 66 corridor.

“ADEQ has done an excellent job of assessing and cleaning up many contaminated properties along Route 66,” said Jeff Scott, the EPA’s Waste Management Division director for the Pacific Southwest region. “The EPA is proud to join ADEQ to take the project one step further and explore ways to help local communities create more businesses where people can ‘get their kicks’ on Route 66.”

“We have targeted resources along Route 66 to clean up contaminated properties and help communities put them back into productive use,” Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens said. “We want to help these communities as much as we can.”

“The Route 66 Initiative is an excellent example of how partnerships can make a significant difference in the underground tank cleanup program,” said Cliff Rothenstein, the EPA’s national director for the underground storage tanks program. “I am pleased that EPA Region 9 and Arizona, along with other stakeholders – tank owners, industry, and community members – will work together to identify viable cleanup options for historic Route 66’s blighted sites and make them safe so communities can productively reuse them.”

Since August 2004, ADEQ has focused on Winslow, Holbrook and Joseph City due to the high number of underground petroleum releases that have affected groundwater in the area. In May, ADEQ began investigations in other cities and towns along Route 66 west of Winslow.

U.S. Route 66 was the first highway connecting Chicago to Los Angeles. By 1938, the entire highway was continuously paved, and was in operation until 1970, when new four-lane highways bypassed most of the old segments. Many gas stations were needed to fuel vehicles along the way and many leaked into the soil and groundwater.

Arizona’s State Assurance Fund provides monetary assistance for assessment and cleanup at leaking underground storage tank sites in small communities located along Route 66. Property owners must report releases and apply by June 30, 2006 to be eligible for state funding.

The meetings will be at from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Jan. 26 at La Posada Hotel
303 E. Second St. in Winslow; and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Jan. 27 at the Navajo County Fairgrounds, 404 E. Navajo Blvd. in Holbrook.

For more information on the public meetings or the Route 66 project, visit or If you have questions, please contact Maggie Witt, U.S. EPA Route 66 Project Manager, at (415) 972-3370.