Our Opinion: Historic Route 20 deserves recognition

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Route 20 doesn't get much love as it meanders through the Berkshires, known by many residents less by its number than by the street names it collects along the way before rolling into New York State on its long westward journey. But it is truly an historic roadway.

The highway begins in Boston's Kenmore Square and ends in Newport, Oregon, about a mile from the Pacific Ocean. At 3,365 miles it is the longest road in the United States, nearly 1,000 miles longer than Route 66, which unlike Route 20 has been paid tribute to in song, television and film.

The Sunday Boston Globe travel section chronicled the efforts of Bryan Farr, a resident of nearby Chester, to give the highway its due. He is pushing for the highway to be designated a national historic highway and has traveled much of it in making his case for the much-deserved recognition. "It's a cross-country route that's full of history," said Stockbridge's Nancy Fitzpatrick (Eagle, Oct. 12, 2016) after she completed a six-year hike in stages along Route 20's entire 3,365 miles.

Western Massachusetts hosts one of the most beautiful sections of Route 20 as it winds through towns like Huntington, Russell, Chester and Becket before turning north through Lenox and into Pittsfield. The 33-mile stretch from Exit 2 in Lee, where Route 20 begins ascending into the hills to Russell is known as the Jacob's Ladder Scenic Highway.

Lost in the July frenzy on Beacon Hill was approval in the House of a bill designating Route 20 as a state historic highway. Representative Smitty Pignatelli (D-Lenox) and Tricia Farley-Bouvier (D-Pittsfield) were among the advocates for the bill, which is awaiting action in the Senate.

We urge passage of this bill this session in the easternmost state that the mighty roadcrosses, and wish good fortune to Mr. Farr, who recently won a $75,000 grant for the Historic US Route 20 Association that he heads to establish a Historic Route 20-Gateway Hill Towns visitor center, in his quest to give Route 20 its due from the Atlantic to the Pacific.


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