This article appeared in the Bisbee Observer’s Sept. 27 issue.
To read some of the history of the route, click here
Highway 80 running through Arizona has been designated as a historic highway, bringing the hope of boosting tourism in Cochise County and Bisbee, as a similar designation of Route 66 has done for northern Arizona.
The Arizona Transportation Board approved the designation at its meeting Sept. 21, after some eight years of work spearheaded by the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation.
Highway 80 — once called the “Broadway of America” — is the nation’s southernmost coast-to-coast road, running from Savannah, Georgia to San Diego. It crosses Cochise County, from Rodeo, N.M. to Douglas to Bisbee to Tombstone to Benson, and before the completion of Interstate 10 was the main route through southern Arizona.
The road goes on through Tucson, on to the Phoenix area, and then west to Yuma. U.S. 80 was commissioned in 1926, but parts of the road date to much earlier under other names. The route over the Divide, for example, was built in 1913-14, and was originally part of the Bancroft Highway. But by 1989, all of the road in Arizona had been removed from the federal system.
The historic designation is only the beginning of a process that will require the cooperation of stakeholders all along the route, said Demion Clinco, CEO of the Tucson foundation, who did much of the work to get the recognition.
Marketing the route must be done statewide, he said. Smaller cities, such as Bisbee, actually will benefit more than the larger ones, though Tucson is already moving ahead on work that will be enhanced by the designation, such as revitalization of the Miracle Mile area, once a part of Highway 80. Continue reading