Corridor management plans (CMPs) are the cornerstone of good byway planning and protect the long-term sustainability of quality along corridors recognized by the National Scenic Byways Program (NSBP). Through these documents, byways provide a detailed strategy for recognizing, promoting, and protecting the intrinsic qualities for which the route is designated. The plans are written documents pledging a commitment to the byway and to a specific course of action.
Corridor management plans were envisioned as an important part of the designation process and long-term management of America's Byways®. From nomination and review to grants, day-to-day management decisions, and even possible de-designation determinations, CMPs are the threshold document through which each byway and byway corridor should be reviewed and evaluated.
Planning documents, such as CMPs, are, by their nature, evolutionary documents. Impacts and opportunities over time seldom mirror the best expectations or predictions of a corridor or region at the time a planning document was developed. Unforeseen changes in population, economy and environment can subtly or dramatically alter the recommendations in any planning document. Corridor management plans are no different. Since the first CMPs were submitted as part of the national nomination process, significant changes have occurred along many of the routes. For some, development pressures have resulted in lost views or demolished historic structures, while for others, new land use policies and grassroots advocacy have stabilized resources once considered at risk. Some routes have even found (often surprisingly) that successful byway marketing programs have generated new concerns—too many visitors for existing facilities or unexpected development pressures resulting from a new awareness for the region's intrinsic qualities.
The following observations and options have been developed to address updating corridor management plans.
Some of the first nationally designated byways have accomplished many of the goals of their CMPs. Signage, interpretive facilities, trails, marketing campaigns, and the recruitment of professional byway staff have been undertaken and accomplished. These byways must now consider next steps, both within the context of an evolved national program, and evolved local conditions.
Corridor management plans for America's Byways® are not uniform in structure, content, or goals. They express the diversity of the collection. The difference among plans reflects regional development pressures, population, land use programs, and financial and people resources.
The evolution of byways, changes in the advocacy group(s), and grant opportunities through NSBP and others have resulted in projects not initially envisioned or identified in the CMP. Many of these complement existing byway efforts; others suggest a change of management towards different intrinsic qualities.
The Program's Interim Policy currently recognizes the authority of FHWA to review a corridor management plan and determine if the objectives for which the byway was designated are being met. The Interim Policy reaffirms the importance of the CMP when evaluating whether a byway is meeting its obligations to the Program. The Federal Register outlining the FHWA Scenic Byways Interim Policy (item 8), May 18, 1995, states:
This language provides the authority for FHWA to review CMPs. Such reviews, directed for the purpose of de-designation, could serve to advise State or Indian tribe byway coordinators of poorly performing byways.
The following options address corridor management plan updates.
CMPs should be regularly reviewed and updated. The review and update requirements should be flexible, but should set expectations for program participation, critical review and feedback, and new or comprehensively updated CMPs. (policy issue)
The following is a sample structure for reviewing and updating CMPs:
Tie grants to byways projects listed in the CMP. Funding only corridor projects identified in the CMP reinforces the primacy of the CMP document. To facilitate flexibility, allow an annual reporting or CMP update/addendum to be submitted with a grant request for a non-CMP identified project. This structure also provides incentive to undertake regular CMP updates. Additionally, by tying grants to CMPs, the NSBP has a strong, uniform, and defensible rationale for grant awards. (statutory and policy issue)
Rather than requiring CMP plan updates, establish a recommended update schedule. Tie grants to updates, or provide additional specialized funds available only for byways with updated CMPs. Or, give projects from regularly updated CMPs priority in determining funding under the Administrative Criteria.