In summary, this document has demonstrated that the National Scenic Byway Act's intention of providing a funding mechanism that would support the wide-ranging and evolving needs of byways has succeeded. The Program's flexibility and broad scope allows State and Indian tribe byways, America's Byways, and State and Indian tribe byway programs to accomplish efforts ranging from conceiving of ideas to constructing facilities. Far-reaching plans for protecting resources or tapping potential new markets of visitors are funded in the same cycles as maps indicating the location of pullouts. All of these efforts are important to byway success and all are eligible under the funding categories.
As noted in the text, there are issues that FHWA should consider investigating in more detail in the future.
- Data collection and analysis have been difficult due to the overlapping original definitions of the various funding categories. For example, planning efforts have been funded under corridor management planning, resource protection, access to recreation, and interpretation/information categories. While these definitions will not change, improvements in database fields and definitions will help the Program in the future.
- FHWA should evaluate how best to assess the success of projects after completion. This is an important effort that must be implemented. The findings will greatly inform questions of how well Program funds have been spent.
- Along with questions of good project management and project benefits to byways, measures of project outcomes could also be useful in the future. For example, outcomes such as acres protected, miles of bike paths built, or number of signs constructed would all allow for comparisons between projects and offer important lessons to all byways. These data would also allow byways and FHWA to better assess per unit costs for different types of projects.
- There appears to be an emerging trend of byways pursuing fewer grant funded projects as time passes. This observation should be investigated to ensure that it is not a sign of fading organizational stability.
- Given the Program's mission to preserve important resources, why is it that just 5 percent of all grant projects have been related to resource protection? Does this suggest that intrinsic qualities are not being well-protected? Does it suggest that most byways have intrinsic qualities that are already well-protected (e.g., Federal or state lands)? Does it suggest that byways place most of their energy and money into the projects that produce politically relevant results? Again this is an issue worthy of exploration.
- Finally, the Program has leveraged significantly more money against its grants than the minimum 20 percent required match. This is an important success story. FHWA might consider exploring these results to identify any ways in which even more leverage, and thus greater impacts, can be achieved.