Sample Letter on Reauthorization
The Honorable Don Young, Chairman
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman Young:
In December 1991, legislation creating the National Scenic Byways Program was enacted. The (name of byway) was designated in (year), and is one of nearly one hundred national scenic byways and All-American Roads specially chosen under this program. These routes play a wonderful role in telling our nation’s stories to millions of travelers each year. We are delighted that the Administration has proposed continuation and expansion of the National Scenic Byways Program in its legislative proposal labeled SAFETEA, and we applaud the efforts of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to do the same as the nation’s surface transportation programs are reauthorized.
We ask for several important revisions to the reauthorization proposals now under consideration regarding byways:
The National Scenic Byways Program includes a small, merit-based grant program designed to create replicable examples of top scenic byways projects, with lessons learned used in projects funded under other surface transportation funding. Qualifying applications for these grants greatly exceed available funds of some $25 million annually. We recommend a significant increase in funding for these grants. We also wish to see the grant program modified to include development of national priorities which would be reflected in grant awards.
In FY 2002, for the first time, a substantial portion of the available scenic byways funding was earmarked in the appropriations process for specific projects, including some projects which may not have qualified under the program guidelines. A similar earmarking process limited FY 2003 funding for awards on a merit basis. We believe that any earmarked funds should be counted as a portion of any Minimum Allocation payments to a state, while merit-based awards should continue to be excluded from this computation.
The America’s Byways Resources Center, created under TEA-21 to provide technical assistance to designated byways and state byways programs, has provided invaluable support and should be specifically reauthorized and appropriately funded, as under TEA-21, with funding supplemental the grant program moneys.
National designation of All-American Roads and national scenic byways should continue on a 12- to 24-month cycle through FY 2009.
Several federal land-management agencies have byways programs. We believe that these routes are vital components of a national scenic byways program and recommend: (a) that FHWA provide technical assistance and other support to these programs and (b) that these federal agencies be eligible for direct, merit-based grants for byways projects.
A national scenic byways marketing program should be established by the Federal Highway Administration, based upon the recreational boating and fishing outreach program administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
A new scenic byways advisory committee should be created to oversee the development of national priorities for the byway program, including grant moneys, and to recommend to the Secretary criteria and processes for the grant program.
With your support and assistance, the National Scenic Byways Program will continue to serve the nation well, helping Americans understand our history and our land better and providing an important new source of pride and economic vitality to thousands of communities. Information on currrently-designated byways – including those in your state – is available at www.byways.org. Thank you for your interest and support.