Forty-Five New Byways Designations Announced

Forty-five new and extended American Scenic Byways were announced by US Department of Transportation officials at a ceremony at Union Station in Washington, DC. The new Scenic Byways and All American Roads are in twenty-seven states and join ninety-six byways previously designated subsequent to establishment of the National Scenic Byways Program in 1991. J. Richard Capka, Acting Federal Highway Administrator, praised the grass-roots energy of the byways community, including some 200 who had gathered for two days of implementation training and celebration in the Capital. Mr. Capka praised the Byways program as an FHWA success story for promoting America’s historic, scenic, natural and cultural gems, and also as an economic development engine for rural communities throughout the nation.

George Schoener, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy for the U.S. Department of Transportation expressed the interest in byways of Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, who was kept away by hurricane recovery duties. Mr. Schoener, who had worked closely on the Scenic Byway Program at FHWA, recounted the first byways designation ceremony in Denver, where he and Derrick Crandall of the American Recreation Coalition produced handmade maps to display the initial batch of Byways. Mr. Schoener announced that under SAFETEA-LU, funding for the Scenic Byways will rise from $30 million to $43.5 million annually by 2009. The initial appropriation for the program in 1991 was $100,000.

Cynthia Burbank, Associate Administrator for Planning, Environment and Realty at FHWA, introduced delegations representing each new byway and described key byway features. A bevy of Members of Congress and Senators attended to praise the efforts of local groups which earned the designations for their communities. U.S. Representative James Oberstar (MN), the original champion of the National Scenic Byways Program, spoke of the ceremony dedicating the Edge of the Wilderness Byway in Minnesota in 1996, one of the original byways. Mr. Oberstar noted the “commitment, excitement and love” which has characterized this program since its inception. He humorously claimed that a released eagle dipped its wings at the byway information kiosk before flying off along the route. U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK) praised Alaska’s Marine Highway -- a unique water trail accessible by ferry in a region without roads. Other Congressional participants included U.S. Representatives Earl Pomeroy (ND), Jerry Moran (KS) and Ray Lahood (IL).

The National Scenic Byways Program (NSBP) was established in 1991. Since 1992, the program has provided almost $300,000,000 funding for 1,665 State and nationally designated byway projects in 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

The NSBP Vision is “to create a distinctive collection of American roads, their stories and treasured places.” The Mission is “to provide resources to the byway community in creating a unique travel experience and enhanced local quality of life through efforts to preserve, protect, interpret, and promote the intrinsic qualities of designated Byways.” To be designated as a National Scenic Byway, a road must possess at least one of the six intrinsic qualities (historic, cultural, natural, scenic, recreational, archeological). The features contributing to the distinctive characteristics of the corridor’s intrinsic qualities must possess regional significance. To receive an All-American Road designation, a road must possess multiple intrinsic qualities that are nationally significant, and contain one-of-a-kind features that do not exist elsewhere. The road must also be considered a “destination unto itself.” That is, the road must provide an exceptional traveling experience so recognized by travelers that the primary reason for their trip would be to drive along the Byway.

For more information about the National Scenic Byways Program and the newest designated routes, [click here] .