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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, Office of the Secretary, Office of Public Affairs, Washington, DC 20590

Thursday, May 22, 2003
Contact: Bill Outlaw
Telephone: 202-366-0660
FHWA 17-03

Eight States Win Awards for Scenic Byways Projects

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and two of its partners at the National Scenic Byways Conference in Albuquerque, NM recognized projects in eight states with national awards for their contributions to enhancing, preserving and promoting America's byways.

The award-winning projects are in Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon and Washington. The projects selected ranged from an interim development ordinance to protect environmentally sensitive lands along the A1A corridor in Florida to restoration of a mountainside to preserve a scenic view along the Mountains to the Sound Greenway in Washington state.

The national competition, entitled "The Road Beckons: Best Practices for Byways," was sponsored by FHWA, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and the America's Byways Resource Center. Thirty-seven projects from 21 states competed for the award.

The National Scenic Byways Program was established under the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991, and reauthorized in 1998 under the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). Last week, U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta unveiled the Bush Administration's six-year, $247-billion surface transportation reauthorization legislation, called SAFETEA (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act), under which the scenic byways program would continue to be funded.

"Continued funding for the National Scenic Byways program in the Administration's surface transportation reauthorization proposal will enable even more people to connect with this country's beauty, history and culture," FHWA Administrator Mary E. Peters said. "The scenic byways program supports transportation improvements while preserving and enhancing our scenic vistas and important landscapes."

"The winning projects generate a sense of pride and enthusiasm for those involved and provide terrific destinations for byways visitors," John Horsley, AASHTO Executive Director, said. "Scenic byways are a key component in national tourism, and by getting out and exploring America, we help build a stronger economy."

"Behind each award is a group of dedicated people," said Henry Hanka, Director, America's Byways Resource Center. "The volunteers and local communities use Best Practices recognition as a springboard to leverage even greater successes. Through these projects, byways are realizing their hopes and dreams."

A publication highlighting the winners can be obtained by contacting the America's Byways Resource Center at 1-800-429-9297 or online at the National Scenic Byways Program web site, http://www.byways.org.

Under the current program, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation recognizes certain roads as National Scenic Byways or All-American Roads based on their archaeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational, and scenic qualities. To date the program has provided $202 million for 1,488 projects throughout the country.

The winning projects are:

Protection of a Scenic Byway by an Interim Development Ordinance
(A1A Scenic and Historic Coastal Highway)
Increasing growth pressures being exerted on an eastern, unincorporated barrier island in Flagler County accelerated the need to protect environmentally sensitive lands and vistas along the A1A corridor. To protect both the character and the abundant natural resources of the region, residents, local businesses, developers and the county joined forces to draft an Interim Development Ordinance (IDO) to expand on and refine protections already in place. Completed in just seven months, the IDO establishes additional setbacks from the road to protect scenic vistas, rewards innovation in site design, limits the size of commercial projects to preserve open space, limits signage and enhances landscape requirements to include native landscaping and tree protection.

Creole Nature Trail Marketing Initiative
(Creole Nature Trail)
Traversing a region affectionately known as "Louisiana's Outback," the Creole Nature Trail hugs the land and serves as the primary residential and commercial route along the Gulf Coast, according to project sponsors. Though traveled by many, it remained one of Louisiana's best-kept secrets until a comprehensive marketing plan was launched to highlight the Trail's significance as a primary destination. Part of the larger planning initiative, the effort was executed to coincide with projects being implemented along the byway. Visitors from all over the world now come to experience the region. The multi-year initiative positioned the area as a primary destination and spurred economic development in the region.

Industry and Environment: Finding Compatibility
Holcim Cement Interpretive Facility/Clarksville Refuge
(Little Dixie Highway of the Great River Road)
Once the edge of a vast untamed wilderness, the Mississippi River has played an important role in the history of the nation's commerce. Recognizing the importance of chronicling the tale, byway supporters identified interpretation of this relationship as an important priority. Enthusiasm for the project has resulted in a public-private partnership to construct an interpretive center and provide access to a wildlife refuge adjacent to the byway, according to sponsors of the project. Holcim, Inc., one of world's largest cement manufacturers, has joined the byway community to educate residents and visitors on the relationship of the river and its resources to the region.

Implementation of the Kancamagus Interpretive and Facilities Plan
(Kancamagus Scenic Byway)
Recognizing the opportunities inherent in national scenic byway designation, the USDA Forest Service and a group of committed public and private partners joined forces to identify ways to enhance the visitor experience and promote stewardship of the region's natural resources. Thanks to a lot of hard work and creative thinking, initial funding for two overlook sites has been parlayed into the development and implementation of an interpretive and facilities plan for the byway. Implementation of priority projects is well underway with $4.1 million invested to date.

Cultural Corridors: Public Art on Scenic Highways
(Historic Route 66 and El Camino Real)
To celebrate travel along these fabled routes and the communities that link them, a cultural mapping project has resulted in the installation of a series of public artworks to underscore the value of both transportation and art to the economic and cultural life of New Mexico, according to sponsors of the project. Designed as roadside attractions, the sculptures captivate the attention of residents and visitors as they travel the historic roadways and think about those that have made the journey before them. Total funding: $1.2 million to install 12 noteworthy public artworks along the two byways.

Hidden Treasures of the Great Plains
(Sheyenne River Valley Scenic Byway)
Occupied for over 11,000 years, the Sheyenne River Valley enjoys a diverse cultural history, according to project sponsors. From prehistoric times to the present, the Valley's abundant natural resources have sustained its inhabitants. A predominantly agricultural landscape, the region is dotted with small rural communities. When changes in the farming industry threatened to undermine the economic vitality of the region, residents once again turned to the richness of their resources to sustain them, according to sponsors of the project. What began as a small project to increase tourism and tell the story of the Valley has expanded into a $1.5 million project that includes 41 interpretive sites, 10 map panel locations and a visitor's center.

Implementation of the Byway Development Plan
(Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway)
FHWA Federal Lands Division, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management (Roseburg District) and the Oregon Department of Transportation drafted a development plan to enhance visitor access while protecting the resources of the area, according to the sponsors of the project. Over time, this partnership has grown to include a variety of public and private interests who have contributed to the vision of how the area should be developed. To date, over $22 million has been invested.

The Re-greening of Zorro Mountain: Erasing the Scars
(The Mountains to Sound Greenway - I-90)
Less than 10 years ago, standing on the steep slopes of a 4,500-foot mountain located just east of North Bend afforded a breathtaking view the Snoqualmie Valley, according to sponsors of the project. From below, however, the mountain presented a different face. Abandoned logging roads marred the face of the peak. Highly visible from the interstate below, these scars detracted from the landscape, and the instability of the site presented hazards to the communities below. Inspired to restore the natural features of the peak, for two summers volunteers followed heavy machinery to pull up the roads; laid biosolids compost, hay, and grass seed; and planted trees as part of a creative Re-greening Partnership led by the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust. The scars have slowly begun to fade and new growth has taken hold.


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