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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 64 · No. 6 > Editor's Notes

May/June 2001
Vol. 64 · No. 6

Editor's Notes

Our guest columnist for this issue's "Editor's Notes" is Cynthia Burbank, program manager for the Federal Highway Administration's Planning and Environment Core Business Unit (CBU). Ms. Burbank discusses the National Scenic Byways Program and introduces two articles about "America's Byways" in this issue.

To Capture the Imagination: The National Scenic Byways Program

The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) was about many things: completing the Interstate Highway System and keeping it in good shape, establishing a National Highway System, improving the nation's bridges, encouraging the use of transit and bicycling, giving state and local governments greater flexibility in addressing their unique transportation challenges, enhancing the environment and cleaning the air, and establishing a National Scenic Byways Program.

Section 1047 of ISTEA, which called for such a scenic byways program, was the culmination of decades of effort by transportation and tourism officials, travel organizations, and grass-roots supporters. The centerpiece of the National Scenic Byways Program is the designation of All-American Roads and National Scenic Byways. Each route possesses the scenic, historic, recreational, cultural, natural, or archaeological characteristics that make it a unique national treasure.

When former Secretary of Transportation Federico Peña announced the first designations under the National Scenic Byways Program in September 1996, he said, "Unlike most roads, scenic byways are about the pleasures along the way and the qualities we treasure most in our country, in our history, and in our lives. Now it is up to all of us to preserve the integrity of these roads so they will continue to serve future generations as shining examples of the scenic and historic qualities that we so enjoy today."

Former Secretary of Transportation Rodney E. Slater awarded additional designations in 1998 and 2000.

Today, with 72 nationally designated byways in all parts of the country, The National Scenic Byways Program is ready to let the people of America know about the abundant treasures awaiting them on the open road. This issue of Public Roads features two articles about "America's Byways" - the collection of nationally designated roads. The first, "Branding America's Byways," explains how the Federal Highway Administration, working with the scenic byways community, has launched an initiative to create an awareness of America's Byways. The second, "Travelers Seek Byway Experiences," is about travel trends that are generating new interest in scenic byways.

In the 20th century, Americans took to the road. At the start of the 21st century, people are still seeking driving adventures. We want to let people know they have the option of traveling roads that capture the imagination, enrich the national spirit, and reveal the heart of America. These roads are America's Byways - a multigenerational legacy of our history, natural wonders, and engineering skills. They are "America's storyteller."

Cynthia J. Burbank

Program Manager

Planning and Environment CBU

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