Legislative Parameters and Intent of Funding
An integral part of the original National Scenic Byways legislation was the provision of grant funding to support local byways initiatives. Title 23, Section 162 of the United States Code specifies the parameters for the grant program (See Appendix A for complete language). In summary, the provision provides for the following:
- Grants are available for the development and implementation of projects, plans, and byway programs for the following types of roads: National Scenic Byways, All-American Roads, America's Byways, State scenic byways; or Indian tribe scenic byways. Priority is given to projects associated with National Scenic Byways, All-American Roads, America's Byways, and State or Indian tribe scenic byways that are consistent with the corridor management plan developed for the byway or for the development of such a plan to make the byway eligible for national designation, as well as projects that are associated with the development of a State or Indian tribe scenic byway program.
- The eight categories of projects eligible for funding are:
- An activity related to the planning, design, or development of a State or Indian tribe scenic byway program.
- Development and implementation of a corridor management plan to maintain the scenic, historical, recreational, cultural, natural, and archaeological characteristics of a byway corridor while providing for accommodation of increased tourism and development of related amenities.
- Safety improvements to a State scenic byway, Indian tribe scenic byway, National Scenic Byway, All American Road, or one of America's Byways to the extent that the improvements are necessary to accommodate increased traffic and changes in the types of vehicles using the highway as a result of the designation as a State scenic byway, Indian tribe scenic byway, National Scenic Byway, All American Road, or one of America's Byways.
- Construction along a scenic byway of a facility for pedestrians and bicyclists, rest area, turnout, highway shoulder improvement, overlook, or interpretive facility.
- An improvement to a scenic byway that will enhance access to an area for the purpose of recreation, including water related recreation.
- Protection of scenic, historical, recreational, cultural, natural, and archaeological resources in an area adjacent to a scenic byway.
- Development and provision of tourist information to the public, including interpretive information about a scenic byway.
- Development and implementation of a scenic byway marketing program.
- No grant may be awarded that does not protect the integrity of the intrinsic qualities along a byway and its adjacent areas.
- The Federal share of the total project cost is 80 percent. Federal land management agency funds may be used to match National Scenic Byways Program funds in cases of byways that are public roads providing access to or within Federal or Indian land.
The FHWA Interim Policy adopted in 1995 (Appendix B) provides additional specificity regarding the grant program. Key concepts in the Interim Policy, Section 10 - Funding clarifying the use of byway funds include:
- The State Highway Agency is identified as being responsible for the submission of grant requests. In cases where the State Highway Agency is not the identified byway agency, grant requests must be forwarded to the State Highway Agency prior to submission to FHWA.
- Eligible safety improvements must be the direct result of increased traffic and/or changes in the types of vehicles using the byway.
- Construction along the scenic byway of facilities for the use of pedestrians and bicyclists, rest areas, turnouts, highway shoulder improvements, passing lanes, overlooks, and interpretive facilities must be within or immediately adjacent to the byway's right of way. Projects must be directly related to the byway.
- Funding eligibility for resource protection applies only to those properties that contribute to the qualities for which the highway was designated. Those properties must be located directly adjacent to the byway. Purchase of resources may be considered eligible only after it has been determined that all other protection measures are unsuccessful. Protection of a resource does not include rehabilitation or renovation of a property.
- Developing and providing tourist information to the public may cover a range of activities. Product advertising is not, however, permitted to be incorporated within tourist information that has been developed with grant funds received under this program.
In summary, the National Scenic Byways Program supports the creation of State and Indian tribe byway programs, the development of plans for specific byways, and the implementation of related activities. As discussed in more detail later in this report, funds have been used for a wide variety of byway enhancing projects. In general, the local byways community has found its partnership with the FHWA to be exceptionally productive.