Scenic Byways Program Backed by Strong National, Local Coalition

May 20, 2011 (Washington, D.C.) - More than thirty key and diverse national organizations and more than fifty local byways program advocates wrote Congressional leaders to describe the successes of the National Scenic Byways Program and to call for continuation of the program under any new federal surface transportation program. The writers ranged from AAA to the National Association of Counties.

The National Scenic Byways Program (NSBP) was created in 1991 and now includes 150 designated routes in 46 states. The byways advocates, writing as Friends of America's Byways, told the Congress, "These routes offer visitors outstanding, world-class opportunities for scenic, recreational, cultural and historic experiences. Not only are the lives of the American people – and visitors to this country – enriched immensely by these experiences, but thousands of communities have been given a new source of pride and economic vitality. These routes also link America's public lands to communities which serve as gateways to parks, forests, refuges and other federally managed lands, and tell stories about our land's geology, history and wildlife."

According to Friends coordinator Derrick Crandall, byways boost local economies through increased visitation, are catalysts for plans which shape development in key corridors, offer great traveling experiences and inspire increased community pride.

Although byways have almost no critics, the Friends note that expected cutbacks in federal transportation assistance to states put even popular and successful programs in jeopardy. According to Crandall, "The combined influence of transportation, recreation, conservation, historic preservation and tourism interests overcame resistance to a byways program in 1991. Those national interests have now reunited, and we also have a rich support team of local byways champions – local elected officials, local convention and visitor bureaus, local government agencies and byways friends groups. I think this chorus will be heard."

Copies of the letters to Senate and House transportation leaders are here and here.