Funding for the National Scenic Byways grants program is provided through the Federal Surface Transportation authorization bill legislative process. During the course of its existence, the National Scenic Byways Program has been included in the following authorization bills:
TEA-21 established the current framework for the National Scenic Byways Program and replaced the interim program established under ISTEA. SAFETEA-LU amended the National Scenic Byways Program to afford Indian tribes the opportunity to directly nominate roads for national designation and directly apply for National Scenic Byways Program grant funding for both the development and implementation of projects and programs.
These transportation authorizations have roughly paralleled phases or eras of establishment, building, and sustaining the Program.
Era 1 (1991 to 1997) was generally a period of establishment. During this era local communities and States became aware of the new Program and local groups, particularly those assisted by well-prepared State transportation and/or tourism offices, immediately began to apply for funds to begin developing byway programs and projects. At the conclusion of Era 1, a number of States had well-established byway programs and a total of 22 byways received national designation. Many other byways were in the process of preparing corridor management plans in expectation of seeking national designation.
Era 2 (1998 to 2004) was a period of building. The collection grew substantially, adding 93 new byways or byway segments (segments refer to each State's portion of a multi-State byway). Era 2 saw the establishment of the America's Byways Resource Center. The Program adopted marketing initiatives, and the America's Byways ® brand was conceived and incorporated into the Program.
Era 3 (2005-present), appears to be characterized by a focus on sustaining byways. An additional 40 new byways or byway segments came into the collection. While additional routes may enter the collection during the remainder of this phase, the Program, State and Indian Tribe Byway Coordinators, and local byway groups are increasingly pursuing organizational, financial, and promotional projects and programs to ensure long-term sustainability for their individual byway routes and the collection as a whole.
Table 2 lists, and Figure 2 illustrates, the total Program funding awarded by era for three categories of projects: America's Byways ® (that is, already-designated National Scenic Byways and All-American Roads), Other Byways (includes State and Indian tribe designated byways that may or may not seek national designation in the future) and Statewide projects (such as byway programs, conferences or research efforts). As would be expected, during Era 1 there were few nationally designated byways and thus a small proportion of funding went to those roads. During Era 2, there was a generally equal distribution of funding between nationally designated byways or America's Byways ® and other byways. Era 3 has just begun.
|America's Byways ®||$5,560,692||$76,740,716||$16,039,324||$98,340,732|
|All Project Types||$81,277,858||$170,990,846||$25,563,807||$277,832,511|
Figure 2 : Total Program Funding by Era and Designation
The above definitions of three eras in the evolution of the Program - establishment, building and sustaining - are observations based on the nature of the types of funding that byways requested in each of the authorization periods. To the degree that these eras correctly characterize the general activities during these time periods, it can be concluded that these three eras have occurred due to the preferences and needs of the byways community roughly simultaneously, but independently, from the surface transportation authorizations. In keeping with the grassroots nature of the Program, this trend should be expected to continue into the future. However, it is plausible that prior to the next reauthorization, the byway community might more pro-actively seek to define broad funding objectives that could guide the grant process. For example, future funding periods might be characterized by telling the stories of America or managing resources for the future.