TEA-21 Reauthorization: Key Points for Byways

SCENIC BYWAYS KEY POINTS
FOR COMMUNICATIONS ABOUT TEA-21 REAUTHORIZATION:

The nation now has a system of nearly one hundred national scenic byways and All-American Roads. These routes play a wonderful role in telling our nation's stories to millions of travelers each year.

We ask for several important revisions to the byways program:

  1. 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.

  2. We are very disturbed that a substantial portion of the available scenic byways funding was earmarked in the appropriations process for specific projects for FY02, FY03 and FY04. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. National designation of All-American Roads and national scenic byways should continue on a 12- to 24-month cycle through FY 2009.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.