WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced Feb. 16 the designation of 34 National Scenic Byways and 15 All-American Roads, the first additions to the Scenic America program since 2009. The new designees — ranging from Maine’s Katahdin Woods and Waters Scenic Byway to California’s Historic Route 66 Needles to Barstow Scenic Byway — traverse 28 states, bringing the total of America’s Byways to 184 in 48 states.
“Great news! Dorchester County is part of the newly designated Chesapeake Country All-American Road, a more than 400-mile route from Chesapeake City to Smith Island,” a statement from Dorchester Tourism said on Feb. 27. “In Dorchester, the designation includes several roadways.”
Scenic Byways feature not only notable views, but also historic, cultural, natural, recreational, and archaeological qualities. Delmarva had another designation, the Delaware Bayshore Byway, which follows the coast from New Castle to Lewes.
“The National Scenic Byways Program brings new jobs, tourism, and other benefits to communities along these scenic roads, which are often located in parts of the country where such resources are desperately needed and harder to come by. We are grateful to Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA), Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), and the nine Members who led the way to pass Public Law No. 116-57, The Reviving America’s Scenic Byways Act, making today’s announcement possible,” Scenic America President Mark Falzone announced on Feb. 16. “We are excited to partner with the new designees as they tap into the program’s benefits, and we look forward to helping other byways across the country in applying for future byways designations.”
Recognizing the potential impact of the National Scenic Byways Program on America’s travel and tourism industry and on its own scenic conservation mission, Scenic America took the lead to work with Congress to open a new nominations process and establish funding for the program. Through the leadership of Sen. Collins and Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), Congress included $16 million in funding for the program in the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act enacted on Dec. 29 — its first dedicated funding since 2012.
The program’s revitalization comes at a critical time for the travel and tourism sector as it contends with the devastating impacts of COVID-19 on communities that rely on a robust hospitality industry. In 2019 alone, travel and tourism generated $2.9 trillion in economic impact according to the U.S. Travel Association.
Scenic byways contribute strongly to those figures. For example, the Blue Ridge Parkway generated $1.4 billion in economic output and supported 16,300 jobs in North Carolina and Virginia in 2019, according to the National Park Service. As Americans look for safe ways to return to travel, road trips and visits to parks and natural places are expected to have widespread appeal.
Scenic America will continue to advocate for the National Scenic Byways Program’s long-term funding, as well as for it to be included in the Surface Transportation Reauthorization bill that Congress will take up this session.