WASHINGTON, D.C — Congressman Garret Graves’ (South Louisiana) bipartisan bill to revive the National Scenic Byways Program earned passage in the United States House of Representatives today. H.R. 831, the Reviving America’s Scenic Byways Act of 2019, ensures that there is a process once again for States, tribes, and Federal land management agencies to request National Scenic Byways designations for roads that meet the scenic byways criteria.
“Louisiana is America’s foreign country, and many of the places and experiences that draw visitors here every year are in more scenic areas,” said Graves. “The same is true nationwide, and by reopening these designations, we’re bringing more attention to these treasures right here at home and across the country -- attracting more tourism while protecting and preserving them.”
Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) cosponsored the bill and added, “As Rhode Islanders know, our state is home to some of the most beautiful scenic byways in the country. This bipartisan bill will allow us to capitalize on our state’s natural beauty and generate millions of dollars in new economic activity. I’m pleased that this bill passed the House today and I look forward to seeing it signed into law.”
The National Scenic Byways Program is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration. The program is a grass-roots collaborative effort established to help recognize, preserve and enhance selected roads throughout the United States. The U.S. Secretary of Transportation recognizes certain roads as All-American Roads or National Scenic Byways based on one or more archeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational and scenic qualities.
Since its inception in 1991 the program has bestowed the National Scenic Byway designation on 150 roads around the country, but the last round of designations occurred ten years ago and Congress officially pulled support for the program in 2012.
National Scenic Byways have been shown to generate significant economic activity for nearby communities, many of which are small and rural in nature. A 2010 report from the University of Minnesota showed a $21.6 million economic impact from traveler spending along both the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway and nearby Lake Country Scenic Byway. A 2013 study of Scenic Byway 12 in Utah found that the byway generated nearly $13 million annually in local spending.