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EPA awards $200,000 Brownfields grant to Flagstaff for Route 66 redevelopment

Release Date: 09/08/2006
Contact Information: Wendy Chavez, EPA, 415/947-4248 Kim Ott, city of Flagstaff, 928/ 779-7603

(San Francisco, Calif. -- 09/08/2006) At a ceremony during Route 66 Days, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today awarded a $200,000 Brownfields grant to the city of Flagstaff, Ariz. to assess potential petroleum-contaminated sites along Route 66.

The city will use the funds to inventory sites along the Route 66 Central Corridor, perform environmental site assessments, develop a comprehensive redevelopment plan, and conduct community outreach. The city expects to focus on sites in the Southside neighborhood and Plaza Vieja.

“This Brownfields grant will help pave the way for life and vitality to return to historic Route 66,” said Jeff Scott, the EPA’s Waste Management Division director for the Pacific Southwest. "These funds will directly improve the quality of life in these communities that are working to redevelop abandoned, contaminated parcels.”

“The annual EPA Brownfields Grants have done much to further economic development and environmental protection in cities throughout Arizona and across the country,” said Flagstaff Mayor Joseph C. Donaldson. “The grant being awarded to Flagstaff today will fund projects that pave the way for economic redevelopment in a key part of central Flagstaff, and provide a better life for Flagstaff’s minority and disadvantaged citizens through better jobs, affordable housing, cultural enrichment, neighborhood revitalization, and health protection.”

U.S. Route 66 was the first highway connecting Chicago to Los Angeles. By 1938, the entire highway was continuously paved and served as the main east-west thoroughfare for the nation. During Route 66’s heyday, gas stations along the highway bustled with motorists, but interstates replaced large sections of the old route in the 1970s. The steady flow of travelers stopped, and gas stations were shuttered and abandoned. Old and sometimes leaking underground storage tank systems were often left in the ground where they could contaminate soil and groundwater.

In Arizona, approximately 350 leaking underground storage tanks sites have been reported along the route. A disproportionate number of abandoned or contaminated sites are located in the center of Flagstaff along the Route 66 Central Corridor.

In June 2004, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality launched its Route 66 Initiative to investigate and clean up leaking underground tank sites. To date, 273 sites have been closed, with cleanup completed or not needed. Nearly 80 sites, or 22 percent, still need further investigation or cleanup. In November, the EPA officially joined ADEQ’s efforts to explore ways to help local communities redevelop and create more businesses along the corridor.

The Brownfield’s program encourages turning America's estimated 450,000 problem properties to productive community use. Since the beginning of the Brownfield’s program, the EPA has awarded 883 assessment grants totaling $225.4 million, 202 revolving loan fund grants totaling $186.7 million, and 238 cleanup grants totaling $42.7 million.

In addition to industrial and commercial redevelopment, Brownfields approaches have included the conversion of industrial waterfronts to river-front parks, landfills to golf courses, rail corridors to recreational trails, and gas stations to housing. EPA's Brownfields assistance has leveraged more than $8.2 billion in private investment, helped create 37,525 jobs and resulted in the assessment of 8,374 properties and the cleanup of 93 properties.

For more information about the Route 66 Initiative, see