GAO United States General Accounting Office Washington, D.C. 20548 Resources, Community, and Economic Development Division B-241024 September 281990 The Honorable John D. Rockefeller, IV Chairman, Subcommittee on Foreign Commerce and Tourism Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation United States Senate Dear Mr. Chairman: As the Congress dehberates reauthorization of the federal-aid highway program in 1991, consideration is being given to the creation of a national scenic byway program. Scenic byways are broadly defined as vehicular routes with adjacent scenic, cultural, historic, or recreational attractions. Proposals for a national program, contained in various fed- eral studies, have ranged from a minimal federal role involving dissemi- nation of scenic byway information to a large program with federally designated routes and a substantial commitment of federal funds. In response to your May 19,1989, request and subsequent agreements with your office, we have reviewed various scenic byways designated by state and private organizations. Specifically, we (1) determined the characteristics of selected byway programs and activities, (2) deter- mined the criteria states use to designate byways, and (3) identified issues raised by scenic byway officials concerning the creation of a national scenic byways program. The scenic byways we reviewed were created primarily to promote Results in Brief tourism or preserve scenic beauty on land adjacent to the roadway. However, a wide variance exists in the characteristics of 27 byway pro- grams and activities’ we reviewed in 10 states. The types of roads desig- nated as scenic byways ranged from interstate highways to gravel and dirt roads. Often, to enhance the byways, byway identification signs were erected, turn-outs or scenic overlooks constructed, and outdoor advertising and land development adjacent to the routes restricted. Twelve of the 27 byway programs and activities used federal-aid highway funds to help finance byway improvements. Byways were also ‘In this report, we consider byways created through a formal process using specific designation cri- teria to be part of a “program.” We consider byways created without criteria and apart from an organized program to be “activities.” Page 1 GAO/RCXCIHO-Ml National Scenic Byways Program B-241024 I funded with general state revenues and donations from the private sector. Some byways are designated using an administrative process whereby routes are visually inspected and rated using specific criteria, while others are created informally without using designation criteria. How- ever, in designating a byway, consideration is usually given to the (1) characteristics of the roadway corridor; (2) accessibility of the route to other byways or major tourist attractions; (3) characteristics of the road, such as length and type of route; and (4) public awareness and support of the byway program by local government or the private sector. State and private scenic byway officials we contacted were concerned that a national scenic byway program, involving federally designated routes, would limit their authority to designate routes within their juris- diction or to determine the use of land along routes. Many officials were also concerned that a federal-aid highway program authorized specifi- cally for scenic byways would reduce the federal funds available for highway construction and preservation. If the Congress decides to create a national scenic byway program, we belie;re it should be of limited scope for several reasons. First, there appears to be little enthusiasm among state byway officials for a large program. Most scenic byway officials we contacted would support, how- ever, a small-scale program that facilitates the exchange of scenic byway information between the states and assists in promoting byways created for tourism purposes. Second, increased federal funding for such a program at this time may not be warranted in light of the limited funds available to address the nation’s highway and bridge needs. In this regard, states have the authority to use federal funds to make improvements they deem necessary to byways located on the federal-aid highway system. Currently, certain federal agencies, many state and local governments, Background and private organizations have designated existing roads as scenic byways. Federal agencies such as the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management have designated a number of routes as scenic byways on lands they own or manage. (App. IV describes these federal programs.) In addition, many states have developed a wide variety of scenic byway programs within their states with routes that vary in length and traverse both urban and rural areas. Page 2 GAO/RCED-99-241 National Scenic Byways Program I B-241024 Private groups, such as the American Automobile Association (AAA), also designate and promote scenic byways. Interest in establishing a national scenic byway program has existed since the mid-1960s. Both a 1966 study by the Department of Commerce and a 1974 study by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recom- mended the creation of a national scenic roads program to help unify the various federal, state, and local agency byway efforts. (App. IV describes these studies in more detail.) In 1986, the President’s Commis- sion on Americans Outdoors recommended the creation of a national network of state and locally designated scenic byways to preserve the scenic or historic character of lesser travelled roads. Recently, Members of Congress, some states, and private interest groups have also been interested in establishing a national scenic byway pro- gram. Their interest coincides with the reauthorization of the Highway Trust Fund-a potential funding source for the creation and operation of a scenic byway program. The characteristics of the 27 scenic byway programs and activities we Wide Variance Exists reviewed in 10 states varied significantly, as did byway program Between State Scenic funding sources, management, and the criteria used for byway designa- Byway Programs tion. Most of the byways, however, were promoted by states or private groups through maps, brochures, or roadway signs. Activities that occurred most frequently after byway designation were the signing of byway routes, construction of turn-outs or scenic overlooks, control of outdoor advertising, and restrictions on the development of private land adjacent to the route. Byway Characteristics Among the byway programs and activities we reviewed, there is neither a common definition nor uniform terminology for scenic byways. A variety of terms are used to refer to scenic byways such as Scenic High- ways, Auto Trails, Parkways, and Circle Tours. Scenic byways in some states, for example, are defined as roads having a high aesthetic or cul- tural value in areas of natural, historical, or recreational significance. In other states, byways are defined as lightly travelled roads with adjacent outstanding natural features, such as Wisconsin’s Rustic Roads, or simply as those routes designated as scenic by a government authority or private group. Page 3 GAO/WED-90-241 National Scenic Byways Program B-241024 , The types of routes designated as byways varied considerably in the 10 states we visited. The roads designated as byways included interstate, state, or county highways, as well as unpaved dirt roads. Some were loop tours (tours that loop back to the point of origin) near urban areas, such as Wisconsin’s Auto Tours, while others were more linear routes parallel to highly travelled highways. While most state programs included a number of separate individual routes, in a few states, byway programs consisted of just one route such as the Mohawk Trail in Massa- chusetts. The length of the byways also varied significantly. For example, some byways were less than a mile long. Others were over 1,000 miles in length and ran through a number of states or crossed international borders. (See app. I and III for more details on these pro- grams and activities.) Most byway officials told us that the main purpose of their scenic byway program or activity was either to preserve scenic beauty or pro- mote tourism. Figure 1 shows the frequency of the main purposes for the 27 programs we reviewed. Page 4 GAO/RCEDtWg41 National Scenic Byways Program EM41024 Figure 1: Main Purpose of 27 Scenic Byway Programs and Activities Increase recreational enjoyment > Enomic development Other purposes 4% Control construction or development 44% A- Preserve scenic beauty Promote tourism Promotion, Funding, and Most of the byway programs and activities we reviewed (20 of the 27) are promoted using a variety of marketing and publicity techniques. Management However, five byway programs whose main purpose is preservation are not promoted because, according to some byway officials, such actions could increase congestion or development and adversely affect the scenic qualities of the byway. Eleven byway programs that have tourism or economic development as their main purpose are promoted usually with maps, books, and brochures that describe attractions along the route. Also, special designation signs have been erected along routes in 17 of the 27 programs and activities. Private groups and state agencies play a key role in promoting the byways we reviewed. For example, a nonprofit agency in New York, the Seaway Trail, Inc., produces various publications and other material featuring historic and recreational attractions along the Seaway Trail, Page 6 GAO/RCEDW241 National Scenic Byways Program B-241024 one of the state’s Auto Trails. Many states use various methods to publi- cize and market byway travel by both domestic and foreign tourists. (See app. I for more on byway promotion.) Most often, states used general state revenue, private-sector funding, and federal-aid highway funds to finance byway programs and activi- ties. About one-half of the byway programs used federal-aid highway moneys to help fund byway costs. Such funds can be used for land- scaping and roadside development for amenities such as rest areas and other roadside facilities and, in order to restore, preserve, or enhance scenic beauty, to acquire strips of land adjacent to byway routes. The amount of federal-aid highway funds spent specifically on scenic byways was not available because such work was usually completed as part of other highway improvement projects. The sources used to fund scenic byway programs and activities we reviewed are shown in figure 9 Figure 2: Funding Sources of 27 Scenic Byway Efforts 26 Number of Byway Programs and Activities 24 22 20 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 Funding Sources Note: Some programs and activities have more than one funding source. Page 6 GAO/ItCED-90-241 National Scenic Byways Program . B-241024 Other scenic byway funding sources include moneys from local govern- ments, bond issues, and state lottery proceeds. Regional tourism associa- tions in Oregon, for example, received lottery funds from the state tourism office to publish maps of area loop tours. The staff managing the Travel Arizona program is part of the state transportation depart- ment, but it is completely self-supported through the sale of travel magazines and books. Massachusetts authorized the sale of $17.5 million in bonds exclusively for scenic land acquisition, and its Department of Public Works develops partnerships with other state agencies and con- servation groups to obtain additional funds to acquire land adjacent to scenic routes. Private groups and associations also provide funds for such things as landscaping and maintenance of land areas adjacent to byway routes. State transportation departments normally have the primary responsi- bility for managing the scenic byway programs or activities. However, other state agencies responsible for activities such as tourism, natural resources, parks, and historic preservation are also involved. Private groups and local governments are also involved in managing a few pro- grams. For example, the Circle Tours around Lakes Michigan and Supe- rior and the Cascade Loop in Washington were created and promoted almost exclusively by private tourism associations. Along California State and County Scenic Byways, local governments administer a scenic highway protection program to control outdoor advertising and regulate land use adjacent to designated routes. Designation Process Roads within the states we visited are usually designated as scenic byways by state legislatures, state or local agencies, and/or private groups. Seventeen of the 27 byways programs we reviewed were for- mally designated as scenic byways which typically involved a visual inspection and rating of the prospective route using specific factors or criteria. In some cases, public hearings may also be part of the designa- tion process. Other byways, such as those created by private organiza- tions or state tourism agencies, were selected without using a formal process or use of specific designation criteria. The designation criteria used most frequently related to the route’s accessibility, the quality of scenery, or availability of attractions along the road corridor. (See app. II for additional information on designation criteria.) The designation criteria used in New York’s Scenic Roads’ pro- gram, for example, is designed to ensure that the routes selected exhibit exceptional scenic characteristics; highlight distinctive regional, historic, Page 7 GAO/WED-go-241 National Scenic Byways Program , B-241024 or cultural features; and receive support from local government and constituent groups. Other states use designation criteria with a slightly different emphasis. For example, in addition to having historic value, roads selected for Tennessee’s scenic highway program must be inter- connected with the state highway system, cannot be high-speed or heavily travelled highways, and must be safe to travel. Results of Scenic A number of changes to a roadway or roadway corridor occur after a route has been designated a scenic byway. For about half of the 27 pro- Designation grams and activities we reviewed, designation resulted in construction of new roadside facilities such as scenic turn-outs or rest stops; improve- ments to roadside aesthetics through landscaping, mowing or pruning; and/or restrictions on outdoor advertising, building construction, or other development of land adjacent to designated routes. For 22 of the byway programs and activities, designation did not result in increased road maintenance or restoration. When byways were designated for preservation purposes, land use adja- cent to the byway was usually affected. Ten of the 13 byway programs with a preservation purpose restrict or control development along the highway corridor. For example, Tennessee’s Scenic Highway program places controls on the heights of buildings and restricts outdoor adver- tising and junkyards along designated routes. The Open Space Program in Massachusetts prohibits construction on land purchased along scenic routes. Wisconsin’s Rustic Roads program enlists the help of local offi- cials in volunteering to limit development on land adjacent to the routes. In our review of scenic byway literature and discussions with numerous byway officials, we were unable to identify any completed research or studies on the economic impact of scenic byway designation or promo- tion. State tourism officials we contacted could not isolate the economic impacts of scenic byway designation or promotion in part because of the multiuse nature of scenic byways. Others said they lacked the resources to study the economic effects of scenic byways. However, studies on the economic impact of scenic byways are currently underway in several states, including a Kansas State University study on byways in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. In addition, FXWA'S scenic byways study-scheduled for completion in November 1990-is to include case studies on the economic impacts of selected byways. Despite limited research in this area, private-sector and state tourism officials believe that promoting routes produces a positive economic Page 8 GAO/RCED-90-241 National Scenic Byways Program effect. For example, a private-sector byway official told us that business dramatically increased along Historic (U.S.) Route 66 in Arizona when the route was promoted. Also, the U.S. Travel and Tourism Administra- tion (USTTA) and the states of Montana, Utah, and Wyoming recently promoted U.S. Highway 89 in the Rocky Mountain region to Japanese tour operators. According to the USTTA, the promotion resulted in 750 bookings and generated an estimated $1.5 million in tourism revenues to states along the route. Because state and private byway programs are so diverse, it is doubtful Issues Raised by State that any one state would have a program that could be used as a model and Private Officials for a national program. However, options for such a program have been Concerning a National proposed in prior scenic byway studies and by private groups such as the AAA. These proposals have ranged in scope from a minimal federal ScenicByway role such as a small office which would function as a clearinghouse of Program byway-related information to a much larger federal program involving federal byway designation and increased funding for scenic byways. (These proposals are discussed in more detail in app. IV.) State and pri- vate officials we contacted raised several concerns about a federal pro- gram involving federal designation that will have to be addressed if a national program is established. The issues raised relate to the potential impacts that a federal program involving federally designated scenic byways would have on existing state programs. Officials we contacted believe that greater federal involvement could limit the flexibility of states to manage their existing programs, to set land use policies, or make road or highway improve- ments. Officials were also concerned that a separate federal highway funding category for scenic byways might reduce federal funding avail- able for highway construction and preservation programs. State and pri- vate byway groups do, however, support federal involvement in scenic byways to further information sharing, provide information on program management and organization, and promote state and private byway programs regionally and abroad. Byway Officials Because scenic byways were created on the basis of varying state or ConcernedAbout local needs and priorities, officials from several states told us that if a federal program for designating national scenic byways were imple- Federally Designated mented, they would favor a designation process with strong state and Routes local involvement, including the ability to nominate roads for inclusion as national byways. This would allow states to preserve the integrity of Page 9 GAO/RCED-99-241 National Scenic Byways Program , B-241024 their own scenic byways programs and to participate fully in decisions that affect their roads. About two-thirds of the state and private officials we contacted2 would not support a program with national byway designations, if such desig- nations required that use of land adjacent to the route would be pre- served or controlled. Officials in some states said that decisions on land use near such byways should be based on local or state policies and pri- orities and not federal regulations. Groups such as the National Camp- ground Owners Association are also concerned that national designation of byways would limit or possibly restrict development options on land adjacent to such routes. On the other hand, one-third of those contacted suggested that nationally designated routes should preserve land adja- cent to designated routes to protect the scenic characteristics of the byway. Almost three-fourths of the state and private officials also did not support national byway designations if they meant road improve- ments would be limited or restricted. Federal Funding for Most state and private officials we contacted support some form of fed- era1 funding for scenic byways, but there was no consensus on the spe- Byways Supported cific type or source of those funds. About half of the state and private officials were concerned about creating a new federal-aid highway funding category dedicated specifically for scenic byways. Officials in some state transportation departments we contacted generally opposed such a funding category largely because they believed it might reduce total funding available for other highway program areas, such as highway construction or preservation. In 1989, for example, although $12 billion was allocated for the federal-aid highway program, capital investment requirements on the federal-aid highway system were esti- mated to exceed $23 billion annually. A number of other state officials suggested that nonhighway-related funding sources be used, such as the Land and Water Conservation Fund.3 Some suggested that funding for federal and state byway activi- ties might also come from partnerships such as those between the U.S. ‘Views concerning a national scenic byway program were obtained through responses to a telephone survey administered to managers of the 27 byway programs and activities in 10 states, and officials with 7 private groups with an interest in scenic byways. Officials in four states without byway pro grams were also interviewed concerning a national scenic byway program. 3The Land and Water Conservation Fund, admimstered by the National Park Service, provides grants to states and local governments to acquire, develop, and improve outdoor recreation areas. Page 10 GAO/ltCED9O-241 National Scenic Byways Program B-241024 Forest Service and the Plymouth Division of Chrysler Corporation and the Bureau of Land Management and Farmers Insurance Company. Under current partnership arrangements, these companies provide some funding for signs, brochures, and other scenic byway promotional activities. Federal Involvement in Despite these concerns, state and private officials did support some fed- era1 byway activities. State byway officials not familiar with the scenic Information Sharing and byway activities of other states or private groups said that more infor- Promotion of Byways mation on byway programs or activities of other states and organiza- Desired tions would be useful to improve their existing byway programs or to help establish new activities. Most officials we contacted supported pro- posals like that made by the AAA for creating a small office at the fed- eral level as a means to share byway information and assist states and others in developing byway programs. As envisioned by the AAA, such an office would function as a clearinghouse for byway-related informa- tion and ideas and provide guidance to states, local governments, or pri- vate groups interested in designating or promoting routes as scenic byways. Officials from four states-Louisiana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Wyoming-that did not have byway programs told us that federal assistance would be helpful if they were to start their own byway program. According to state officials, federal activities such as operating a clearinghouse of byway-related information and providing guidance and technical assistance on ways to identify, designate, and promote scenic byways would be useful. Over two-thirds of the state and private officials supported a federal role in promoting scenic byways domestically and/or abroad. Officials in several states said federal promotional efforts are needed because they lacked the resources for such promotions. They also believe that the fed- eral government could better promote scenic byways on a regional basis, especially to foreign tourists. Several officials cited efforts by the Mis- sissippi River Parkway Commission to promote travel along the Great River Road in foreign markets as a example of successful byway promo- tion on a regional basis. To attract Japanese tourists to the area, the Commission attended tourism conferences in Japan and developed bilin- gual promotional materials and other marketing strategies. Some of these officials said that federal help in promotional efforts like this could increase domestic and international tourism, help boost local or rural economies, and provide greater visibility for scenic byways at the national level. Page 11 GAO/RCED-90-241 National Scenic Byways Program B-241024 terns of states about federally designated routes, it may be difficult to Observations and reach a consensus on the makeup of a national program. There appears Matters for to be little support for a large national program funded from a new fed- eral-aid highway funding category or for federally designated byways Congressional that would limit states’ ability to set land use policies and make road Consideration improvements. However, support does exist for federal involvement that would provide information to states and private groups on byway program management and organization, and help promote state and pri- vate byway programs regionally and abroad. If the Congress decides to create a national scenic byway program, we believe that such a program should be of limited scope. The federal-aid highway program already provides funds that can be used to make improvements to scenic byways on the federal-aid highway system. Any efforts to significantly expand federal-aid highway funding for byways may not be warranted at this time, given the need for funds to ade- quately address our nation’s highway and bridge needs and the concerns that many state byway officials have over the creation of a large national program. We discussed the results of our review with F’HWA officials and with offi- cials of the US. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park Service, and incorporated their comments where appro- priate. The officials agreed with the factual information as presented. As requested, we did not obtain official agency comments on a draft of this report. Our review was conducted between August 1989 and June 1990 and was performed in accordance with generally accepted govern- ment auditing standards. As arranged with your office, unless you publicly announce the contents earlier, we plan no further distribution of this report until 30 days after the date of this letter. At that time, we will send copies of this report to officials in the states we visited, the heads of pertinent federal depart- ments and agencies, and other interested parties. This report was Page 12 GAO/RCED-90-241 Yational Scenic Byways Program Ez41024 prepared under the direction of Kenneth M. Mead, Director of Transpor- tation Issues (202) 275-1000. Major contributors to this report are listed in appendix VI. Il J. Dexter Peach V Assistant Comptroller General Page 13 GAO/ECEBB@Z41 National Scenic &ways Program I Contents Letter Appendix I 16 Characteristics of Types of Routes Selected Designation Process and Management Structure 16 17 ScenicByway Promotion 19 Programs and Results of Byway Designation 21 Activities Appendix II 24 Designation Criteria Appendix III 25 SelectedFeatures of ScenicByway Programs/Activities in P 10 States Appendix IV 31 Federal Scenic Byway National Park Service Parkways 31 1J.S.Forest Service Scenic Byway Program 31 Programs and Bureau of Land Management Backcountry Byways 32 Activities Program Prior Federal Scenic Byway Studies 33 Appendix V 36 Objectives, Scope,and Methodology Appendix VI 38 Major Contributors to This Report Page 14 GAO/RCED-90-241 National Scenic Byways Program , Contents Tables Table I. 1: Promotion Methods Used in 14 Programs and 21 Activities to Target Foreign Residents Table II. 1: Criteria Used to Designate Scenic Byways 24 Figures Figure 1: Main Purpose of 27 Scenic Byway Programs and 5 Activities Figure 2: Funding Sources of 27 Scenic Byway Efforts 6 Figure I. 1: Number of Byways Programs and Activities 20 Using Promotion Methods Figure 1.2: Activities Associated With 27 Scenic Byway 22 Efforts Abbreviations American Automobile Association BLM Bureau of Land Management FVWA Federal Highway Administration GAO General Accounting Office NPS National Park Service RCED Resources, Community, and Economic Development Division USTTA U.S. Travel and Tourism Administration Page 16 GAO/RCFCD9@241 National Scenic Byways Program Appendix I Characteristics of ScenicByway Programs ’ and Activities During our review of state scenic byways, we analyzed 27 byway pro- grams and activities’ in 10 states and identified key characteristics of the byways including route types; designation processes; and manage- ment structures, promotion methods, and results of byway designation. (See app. II for information on designation criteria.) The characteristics of the byways-including the length and type of Types of Routes routes-varied between the byways we reviewed. However, most of the Selected programs and activities shared one common characteristic-the desig- nation of a number of separate, unconnected routes. The length of the byways varied considerably. One of Oregon’s Historic Highways and two of Tennessee’s Scenic Highways, for example, are less than 1 mile long. Similarly, Wisconsin’s Rustic Roads are relatively short, averaging 5 miles in length. In contrast, some byway routes are very long and sometimes cross state and international borders. For example, the average “back road” in the Travel Arizona program is over 100 miles long. The 1,300-mile Lake Superior Circle Tour and the 3,000- mile Great River Road along the Mississippi River both run through a number of states and Canada. The types of routes designated as scenic byways ranged from interstate highways to dirt roads. Examples of interstate and state highways are Washington’s Interstate 90 across the Cascade Mountains, California’s State Scenic Highways, and the Wildflower Routes in Minnesota respec- tively. Other byways are county or local roads, such as California’s County Scenic Highways or Wisconsin’s Rustic Roads. Still others byways-some of the Rustic Roads and Travel Arizona routes-are on gravel or unpaved roads. Some byways start and end in urban areas after looping through sur- rounding rural areas, while other routes are linear and offer travelers an alternative route to highly travelled roads. For example, the Cascade Loop begins in Everett, Washington-a city of 64,000 people-extends 400 miles through rural and mountain regions, and returns back to Everett. Most of the Auto Tours in Wisconsin also start in cities and loop through the countryside before returning to the same urban area. Other byways run parallel to highly traveled routes. The Seaway Trail in New ‘The information contained in this appendix is baaed on interviews and responses to a telephone survey we administered to managers of each of the 27 byway programs or activities reviewed. Figures I.1 and I.2 and table I.1 summarize the results of selected questions. Page 16 GAO/RCED-90-241 National Scenic Byways Program Appendix I Characbristiies of Scenic Byway Programs and Activities York, for example, runs 454 miles along the northern border of New York state, connecting many scenic, historic, and recreational attrac- tions and providing an alternative to heavily travelled routes I-90 and I-81. Route 99W, one of the Scenic Routes in Oregon, runs parallel to I-5 for 122 miles and provides a more scenic travelling route than the latter. Most byway programs and activities in the 10 states consisted of a number of separate, unconnected routes. For example, California has 23 Driving Tours in different rural areas throughout the state, and a Scenic Highway program with 51 separate routes in different parts of the state. Tennessee’s Scenic Highway program includes 5 urban routes and 17 rural routes in various sections of the state. Virginia established criteria that require designated byways to be widely distributed throughout the state. However, one of the 27 programs we reviewed-the 39-route Scenic Parkway program in Tennessee-links its routes together into a statewide scenic byway system. Scenic byway programs and activities we reviewed require one or more Designation Process groups or organizations, such as state legislatures, state agencies, local and Management or regional agencies, and/or private groups, to designate2 byway routes. Structure Minnesota, Tennessee, and Washington use the state legislature to desig- nate certain byways. State transportation agencies often have responsi- bility for developing and implementing designation procedures as well. For example, officials in the Tennessee Department of Transportation designated the 39 routes in the Scenic Parkway program after reviewing suggestions submitted by its district staff. In Oregon, on the other hand, the legislature commissioned a citizen’s task force to study Historic and Scenic Highways and submit its recommendations to the Oregon Trans- portation Commission for designation. Private groups designated the Cascade Loop in Washington and the Circle Tours around Lakes Mich- igan and Superior. Most byway programs designate routes without a formal process or use of specific designation criteria, such as the byways designated by pri- vate groups and state tourism agencies. Private groups designated the Cascade Loop in Washington and the Circle Tours around Lakes Mich- igan and Superior without specific designation criteria. The Wisconsin tourism office designated the Auto Tours, and the California tourism ‘We used the term “designation” to refer to byways created or established by state, local or regional agencies, and private groups using either a formal or informal process. Page 17 GAO/RCED-90-241 National Scenic Byways Program Appendix I Characteristics of Scenic Byway Programs and Activities office established the Driving Tours without specific designation criteria. In contrast, some programs have a formal designation process that can require a number of steps. Many programs involve visual inspections of prospective routes to determine if a route meets established criteria or standards. Officials in states like Arizona and New York use highly quantitative rating methods to score each segment of the proposed Scenic Roads. For example, the designation process for Arizona’s Parkway, Historic and Scenic Roads program involves a 12-step process that requires up to 5 different groups or individuals to agree on a route’s designation. Public hearings are required before designation takes place for programs in California, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Programs in Ari- zona, California, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin have provisions that allow officials to revoke designation if a review indicates that a route no longer meets the conditions for designation. Scenic byway programs and activities we reviewed are managed by state and/or local agencies, private groups, and sometimes partnerships involving several agencies or groups. In about two-thirds of the scenic byway programs and activities we reviewed, the state transportation department had primary management responsibility. But other state agencies such as tourism, natural resources, parks, and historic preser- vation are also involved in managing the byways. For example, the Min- nesota Departments of Transportation and Natural Resources work together to manage the Wildflower Routes planting and vegetation activities. The Tennessee Department of Transportation designated the Parkways and put up signs along the road, while the state tourism office developed maps and brochures to make travelers aware of attractions along the Parkways. In Virginia, the Department of Conservation and Recreation has the main responsibility for evaluating potential byways, while the Department of Transportation assists with these efforts, designates the routes, and conducts annual inspections of the roadway. Private groups and local governments occasionally work in partnership with state agencies to manage state byway programs. For example, the Open Space Program in Massachusetts usually requires conservation commissions or local groups to maintain the land acquired by the state along scenic corridors. In Minnesota, local governments maintain the landscapes along the state’s Wildflower Routes, and private groups pro- vide landscaping equipment and seeds. Page 18 GAO/RCXD-90-241 National Scenic Byways Program Appendix I Characteristics of Scenic Byway Programs and Activities In some cases, private groups have developed and organized byway pro- grams with little state help or involvement. The Circle Tours around Lakes Michigan and Superior and the Cascade Loop in Washington are examples of byways that were designated and promoted mainly by pri- vate tourism associations. Likewise, various chambers of commerce in Oregon have designated Scenic Routes and Loop Tours in their areas to promote tourism. States and private groups use a variety of methods to promote byways Promotion and their attractions. Twenty of the 27 byway programs and activities we reviewed are promoted in some way. In some states, private groups organize activities for a particular route in a scenic byway program. For example, a nonprofit agency in New York, the Seaway Trail, Inc., pro- duces various publications featuring historic and recreational attrac- tions along the Seaway Trail, one of the state’s Auto Trails. In Arizona, the Historic Route 66 Association publishes a monthly promotional newsletter and helps organize car rallies and historic billboard restora- tion activities along one of the state’s Historic Roads. As figure I.1 shows, promotion methods used most often to promote the byways are signs along the routes, books, brochures, maps, and tourism publications. Page 19 GAO/WED-90-241 National Scenic Byways Program Appendix I Characteristics of Scenic Byway Programs and Activities Figure 1.1: Number of Byways Programs and Activities Using Promotion Methods 26 Number of Byway Plogmms and Activitii 24 22 20 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 Promotion Methods for20 Byway P-rams and Activitii Signs play an important role in promoting scenic byways and their attractions. An Oregon study on highway signs found that because people do not plan their trips completely, they are receptive to new information when travelling. According to the study, signs encourage travelers to leave the major traffic corridors and visit nearby attrac- tions. The study also found that travelers in rural areas have a difficult time finding attractions without appropriate signs to help them locate the attractions. Some states also focus their byway promotional efforts on foreign tour- ists. According to the U.S. Travel and Tourism Administration (USTTA), seeing outstanding scenery is among the top goals of Europeans and Asian tourists. To stimulate foreign interest in byway attractions, states like Massachusetts and California set up tours to introduce foreign writers and bus tour operators to byway attractions so they will pro- mote them in their own countries. Some states have representatives in foreign countries or send tourism officials to conferences overseas to promote the state, including its scenic byways. Some states and private Page 20 GAO/R~90-241 National Scenic Byways Program . Appendix I Characteristics of Scenic Byway Programs and Activities groups use materials in other languages to promote attractions in their areas. For example, California publishes a map in Spanish that high- lights its Scenic Highways, and the Mississippi River Parkway Commis- sion uses materials in Japanese to promote the Great River Road. Fourteen of the 20 byway programs and activities that are promoted in some way target foreign residents. Table I. 1 lists the most frequent methods to promote byways internationally. Table 1.1: Promotion Methods Used in 14 Programs and Activities to Target Method used Number Foreign Residents Activltles directed toward foreign tour operators 12 State representation at foreign tourism conferences IO Publlcatlon In other languages 9 Offices or representatives in foreign countries 8 Little or no promotion is done for byways with a preservation focus because, according to officials from several states, promoting such pro- grams could increase tourism and traffic in areas not meant to accom- modate such increases. For example, officials in Wisconsin do not want to promote the Rustic Roads too heavily because greater publicity could increase traffic congestion on narrow, low-access roads. Massachusetts’ officials said that increased attention on scenic byways might require additional road construction-like widening shoulders or creating new lanes-to safely accommodate the additional traffic. Of the 13 byway programs that had scenic preservation as their main purpose, 5 are not promoted at all. Scenic byway designation has resulted in a number of changes to the Results of Byway roadway or to land adjacent to the roadway. Figure I.2 identifies the Designation types of changes that have taken place among the 27 programs we reviewed. Page 21 GAO/RCEIMO-241 National Scenic Byways Program Appendix I Characteristics of Scenic Byway Programs and Activities Figure 1.2:Activities Associated With 27 Scenic Byway Efforts 26 Number of Byway Programs and Activities 24 22 20 16 16 12 10 6 6 4 2 Type of Activities Many programs put up special signs along the route to indicate that the route has been designated as a byway. In many cases, the same sign is used on all the routes of a program. For example, Tennessee put up over 2,000 mockingbird signs along its Scenic Parkways. Arizona uses iden- tical signs along its Parkway, Historic and Scenic Roads, even though the routes have been designated using different criteria. The Great River Road uses the same sign along the entire lo-state route. In a few pro- grams, however, the signs vary from route to route. For example, dif- ferent signs were developed and put up along the Scenic Routes and Loop Tours in Oregon. Since each route or loop has different types of attractions, the signs reflect those differences. Each of the 11 Auto Trails in New York-like the Dude Ranch Trail, the Military Trail, and the Seaway Trail-have distinctive signs because each Trail has a dif- ferent theme. Two signs are used along Minnesota’s Wildflower Routes, one for routes through prairies and one for other routes. In many cases, roadside facilities are constructed or upgraded once a route is designated. Rest stops, picnic areas, scenic turnouts and scenic Page 22 GAO/WED-99-241 National Scenic Byways Program . Appendix I Characteristics of Scenic By-way Programs and Activities overlooks are among the facilities typically built or upgraded along the routes. On some routes, byway designation results in special landscaping activities, such as planting trees, shrubs, or native grasses and trimming vegetation more frequently. Other activities improve the appearance of the road, such as using wooden or rock guardrails, burying utility lines; or painting guardrails, signs, and concrete. Page 23 GAO/lZCED30-241 National Scenic Byways Program Appendix II Designation Criteria Twelve of the 27 byways programs and activities we reviewed used spe- cific criteria to designate scenic byways. The criteria generally fell into four categories: (1) corridor characteristics, (2) accessibility, (3) road characteristics, and (4) public awareness and support. The criteria used most often related to the route’s corridor characteristics, and more spe- cifically, to the quality or quantity of attractions along the route and the quality of scenery. The following is a listing of the various types of cri- teria used. Table 11.1:Criteria Used to Designate Scenic Byways Category Types of Criteria Corridor characteristrcs Quality or quantity of scenic, recreational, historic, cultural, or geologic attractions along the route. Intactness, uniqueness, unity, vividness of scenery. Complementary facilities (parking, visitor centers, rest stops). Existence of land use restnctions or protections. Amount or type of existing or potential development along the route. Plans for reviewing or managing proposed or existing roadside development. Accessibility Connection with other designated routes. Connection to major attractions. Proximity to population areas and well-travelled routes. Alternative route to well-travelled routes. Availability or number of connecting access roads and arterials. Road characteristics Safety issues (guardrails, shoulders, warning signs, ability to carry large vehicles safely, speed limit). Road or roadside design. Length of the route. Type of users (commercial, residential, local). Existing or potential volume of traffic. Public awareness and support Local and state government support Private sector support. Availability of partnerships for funding, management, maintenance, and promotion Widely recognized routes. Page 24 GAO/RCED-90-241 National Scenic Byways Program Appendix III sleeted Features of ScenicByway Programs/Activities in 10 Statesa Who manages or What happens oversees the How are the Who designates after -- program/ routes Program/activity Main purpose Scope of routes the routes? designation? activity? promoted? Arizona Parkways, Preserve scenic 1 parkway, 2 Advisory Signs put up Advisory One route Historic and beautv historic, and 6 committee along route, committee promoted by Scenic Roads . scenic routes recommends recommendations private covering a total of route; state made for assocration, local 395 miles transportation improving and communities ;uardsdesignates preserving highlight routes in scenery; some some promotional construction of material roadside facilities Travel Arizona Promote tourism 16 routes that Editors of a state Promotional Editors of a state Books describe take 1 to 3 davs to transbortation material transportation attractions alone drive (length of depaytment developed department the routes; state routes unknown), magazine magazine tourism office 20 “back road” booklet describes routes on paved attractions along and unpaved the 16-route roads covering a system total of 2,144 mrles California County Scenic Preserve scenic Parts of 4 county Advisory Local jurisdiction State Not currently Highways beauty highways covering committee implements a transportation promoted by state a total of 47 miles reviews request scenic protection department tourism office for designation by program; state local jurisdictions; transportation state department puts transportation up signs along the department routes approves designation Driving Tours of Economic 23 routes, Routes identified Routes promoted State tourism Booklet describes the Calrfornias development primarily loop by local tourism by state tourism office the routes and tours in rural areas and promotion off ice their attractions agencies State Scenic Preserve scenic 51 routes covering Advisory Local jurisdiction State Routes are signed Highways beauty a total of 1,068 committee implements a transportation and identified on miles reviews request scenic protection department state tourism map for designation by program; state local jurisdrctrons; transportation state department puts transportation up signs along the department routes approves designation (continued) Page 25 GAO/RCED-99-241 National Scenic Byways Program d Appendix Ill Selected Features of Scenic Byway Programs/Activities in 10 States Who manages or What happens oversees the How are the Who designates after program/ routes Program/activity Main purpose Scope of routes the routes? designation? activity? promoted? Massachusetts Mohawk Trail Promote tourism One 63-mile route Route constructed Private Private Various public and linking the in 1914 as a association and association private-sector northeast & scenic road state tourism promotes maps and northwest parts of office promote the activities and publications the state route attractions along highlight the route the route and its attractions; route shown on state highway map Open Space Preserve scenic 116 acres of land State legislature State agencies, State Signs put up on beauty acquired along 4 authorizes private groups, transportation preserved parcels routes acquisition of and local department along adjacent scenic roadside governments advisory route parcels based on acquire land committee; land recommendation which can only be maintained by of state used for local groups, state transportation conservation and agencies, or department recreation conservation purposes commissions Minnesota Great River Promote tourism 700-mile section of State legislature Signs put up Legrslatrve Variety of books, Road and increase a route through 10 along the route; commission maps, and recreational states and amenities built or coordinates work brochures enjoyment Canada that runs improved; some with several state available for the the length of the road constructton agencies sections in the Mrssissippi River and maintenance state; legislative (does not Include commission 420-mile portion of promotes route in a federally funded foreign countries; route) signs put up along the road; route shown on the state mao ko;g;tive Promote tourism 19 routes and 2 State legislature Some State Brochures and bridges construction of transportation maps developed roadside facilities; department for some routes by increased road local groups; maintenance; signs put up along signs put up along the routes the route North Shore Preserve scenic 150-mile section of Route not Construction of Board of local Sians put UD Drive beauty highway along the designated, but 3 roadside and officials, state al&g the route; northern border of other byway recreation transportation and various Lake Supenor programs have facilities; natural resources publications and desrgnated parts increased road departments maps promote of the route (Lake marntenance and attractions and Superior Circle landscaping amenities along Tour, US. Forest the route; some Service scenrc promotion in byway, and a international legislatively markets desianated route) Page 26 GAO/RCED96-241 National Scenic Byways Program . Appendix III Selected Features of Scenic Byway Programs/Activities in 10 States Who manages or What happens oversees the How are the Who designates after program/ routes Program/activity Main purpose Scope of routes the routes? designation? activity? promoted? Wildflower Preserve and 6 routes covering State Environmentally State Signs put up Routes improve scenic a total of 238 miles transportation sensitive transportation and along the routes; beauty department in landscape natural resource local media consultation with management; departments, local promotion and the natural some recreatron governments dedication resources and facilities built, ceremonies tourism planting some departments native flowers and r grasses New York Auto Trails Economic 11 routes in the State legislature Signs put up Private nonprofit Maps, brochures, development northern part of along routes, organization and other material the state promotional distributed by materials state tourism developed off ice and private organizations describe scenic, historic, or recreational attractions along some routes Parkways Increase 13 routes covering Routes built in the Special State Not currently recreational a total of 160 early 1900s as landscaping and transportation promoted by state enjoyment miles, mainly in parkways and guardrails department; state tourism office metropolitan New were not designed to off ice of parks, York City designated enhanceand recreation, and afterward maintain aesthetic historic driving preservation experience; several routes listed on the National Registry of Historic Places Scenic Roads Preserve scenic 29 road segments Local groups Local government State Program beauty covering a total of submit encouraged to environmental promoted to local 104 miles along nominations; adopt a corridor conservation or regional town, county, and environmental management plan department planning boards; state roads, conservation to protect and local government mainly in the department preserve the has the option of Hudson River approves natural, cultural, putting up signs Valley designation and scenic along a route resources adjacent to the road Page 27 GAO/RCED90-241 National Scenic Byways Program Appendix III Selected Features of Scenic Byway Programs/Activities in 10 States Who manages or What happens oversees the How are the Who designates after program/ routes Program/activity Main purpose Scope of routes the routes? designation? activity? promoted? Oregon Historic and Recognize historic 9 highways, 11 Citizens advisory Construction or State Booklet published Scenic and scenic bridges, and 5 committee landscaping transportation by state Highways highway rockwork sites recommends; activity must be department transportation construction state approved by state department but transportation transportation routes and sites department department; signs are not promoted designates put up at sites by state tourism office; some routes promoted by local communities Scenic Areas Preserve scenic Scenic areas Board in the state Advertising signs State Not currently beauty along 3,451 miles highway and junkyards transportation promoted by state of state and department removed in department tourism office federal highways approved locally designated areas monitors in all parts of the nominated routes compliance along state routes Scenic Routes Promote tourism 16 loop tours and Local chambers of Signs unique to Chambers of Brochures and and Loop Tours alternative routes commerce each route put up commerce maps highlighting along some of the coordinate attractions in the roads promotion efforts area printed for with state tourism each route by office; state local chambers of transportation commerce; state department puts tourism office lists up signs along routes in state routes booklet; signs put up along some routes Tennessee Scenic Preserve scenic 5 urban routes Routes identified Controls are State Not currently Highways beauty and 17 rural by local officials placed on outdoor transportation promoted by state routes covering a and approved by advertising, department or tourism office total of 234 miles the state junkyards, and on local agency with legislature buildings jurisdiction over constructed the route adjacent to the route Scenic Promote tourism 39 parkways 28 routes Some State Over 2,000 Parkways coverina a total of desianated bv the construction of transportation and highway signs 2,810 m:les in an stat&legislature in roadside facilities; tourism installed; state interconnected 1982; 11 routes landscaping along departments tourism brochure system linking designated later the routes; signs highlights historic state parks, by the state put up along the sites, parks, and historic sites, and transportation routes other attractions tourist attractions department (continued) Page 28 GAO/RCEWJO-241 National Scenic Byways Program Appendix III Selected Features of Scenic Byway Programs/Activities in 10 States Who manages or What happens oversees the How are the Who designates after program/ routes Program/activity Main purpose Scope of routes the routes? designation? activity? promoted? Virainia Virginia Byways Preserve scenic 33 individual State Local State State highway beauty routes covering a transportation governments transportation and map indicates total of 553 miles board control land use conservation/ routes; signs put along scenic recreation up along the corridor; state departments routes transportation department conducts yearly inspections to make sure the route meets the minimum criteria; some roadside improvements made Washington Cascade Loop Promote tourism 400-mile loop Private nonprofit Private nonprofit Private nonprofit Signs put up throuah mountain association association association along the route; and c%astal promotes the traveler’s guide regions In the route; signs put promotes north and central up along the route attractions and parts of the state amenities in areas alona the route Scenic and Preserve scenic 27 separate State legislature Some land State Signs put up Recreation beauty routes covering a purchased along transportation along the route: Highways total of 1,909 miles the routes; department brochures landscaping to describe create better attractions along views; some the routes scenic turnouts constructed Scenic Vistas Preserve scenic 12 separate State legislature Most highway State Not currently beauty routes covering a billboards transportation promoted by state total of 455 miles; removed department tourism off ice also includes 27 routes that are part of the Scenic and Recreation Highways program Utilities Control Scenic character State Aerieal utilities are State Not currentlv Accommodation construction or of over 7,000 miles transportation buried or transportation promoted by state development of state highway department and relocated along department tourism off ice has been state utility selected scenic assessed coordinating sections of state council highways (continued) Page 29 GAO/RCED-90-241 National Scenic Byways Program l Appendix III Selected Features of Scenic Byway Programs/Activities in 10 States Who manages or What happens oversees the How are the Who designates after program/ routes Proaram/activitv Main DurDose Scope of routes the routes? designation? activitv? promoted? Wrsconsrn Lake Michigan Promote tourism I lOO-mrle Lake Route identified Signs put up Private nonprofit Signs put up and Lake Michigan Circle by private along both routes; associations along both routes; Superior Circle Tour runs through nonprofit promotional maps and Tours 4 states: 1300-mile assocrations material booklets promote Lake Superior developed attractions and Crrcle Tour runs amenities along through 3 states the routes and Canada Auto Tours Promote tourism 23 separate State tourism Routes publicized State tourism Book describes routes covering a office in state tourism office attractions and total of 4147 miles book side trips available along the routes Rustic Roads Preserve scenic 55 separate Private Future land use Board in the state Signs put up beauty routes covering a landowners, In and roadway transportation along the routes; total of 280 miles, conjunction with improvements department brochure and map located pnmanly local or county should preserve describe the in rural areas government, rustic character of program and each request route; signs put route, program desrgnatron; up along the mentioned in state board In the state route; speed limit tounsm transportation restricted publications department desrgnates routes aThe scenic byways programs and act&es listed for each state are not exhaustive but are intended to show the diverse nature of the byway efforts in the 10 states reviewed. Page 30 GAO/RCED+O-241 National Scenic Byways Program Appendix IV Federal Seek Byway FYogramsand Activities This appendix summarizes the scenic byway programs managed by the Department of the Interior’s National Park Service (NPS), and the Bureau of Land Management, and the Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service, and discusses prior scenic byway studies conducted by federal agencies or commissions. Since the 1930s NPS has maintained a system of parkways and other National Park Service scenic routes in the National Parks. Routes are designated either by the Parkways Congress or the NFS as parkways or scenic or historic routes. Perhaps the most well-known type of designated routes are “park- ways,” which are routes designated by the Congress. Essentially, park- ways are elongated federal parks designed for pleasure driving on routes with scenic, recreational, historical or other features of national significance. As of June 1990, there were nine parkways located mainly in East Coast and Southeastern States. One well-known parkway, for example, is the Blue Ridge Parkway, established by the Congress in 1936. The route was designed specifically as a scenic route and extends 470 miles through the southern Appalachian Mountains of western Vir- ginia and North Carolina. Other routes have been approved by the NPS for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places because of their unique settings, his- toric values, or design features. Routes such as the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park and the Generals’ Highway in Sequoia National Park are examples of such routes. In 1988, the U.S. Forest Service created a National Forest Scenic Byways U.S. Forest Service program as part of its national recreational strategy. The main objec- ScenicByway tives of this program are to provide greater public awareness of Program National Forest activities and recreational opportunities; to meet increased demand for pleasure driving; to showcase outstanding National Forest scenery; and to increase the use of National Forests by urban minorities, the disadvantaged, and the elderly. As of May 1990, the Forest Service had designated 71 Scenic Byway routes covering over 3,761 miles located in 31 states. The Forest Service identifies and designates its byways using specific designation criteria, and seeks the concurrence of states or local groups if prospective routes traverse their respective jurisdictions. According to an agency official, the main designation criteria used by the agency emphasizes routes with Page 31 GAO/FKXD-99-241 National Scenic Byways Program . Appendix IV Federal Scenic Byway Programs and Activities a high degree of scenic, historic, or recreational features; routes safe for driving by passenger car; and routes whose designation is consistent with existing National Forest plans. Funding for Forest Service scenic byways comes from partnerships with several companies and, to a lesser extent, from agency funds. The Forest Service has established a partnership with the Harley Davidson Com- pany and has executed a collection agreement with the Forest Education Foundation, which has formed partnerships with the Plymouth Division of the Chrysler Corporation. These companies will provide funding for signs, brochures, and other promotional activities. A Forest Service offi- cial told us that Forest Service moneys have been or will be spent for signing, building turn-outs or interpretive sites, and roadway mainte- nance costs due to increased traffic. In 1988, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) created a program Bureau of Land of Back Country Byways. The main goals of BLM'S program are to pro- Management vide greater awareness of recreational activities available on BLM land, Backcountry Byways provide more opportunities for pleasure driving in back country areas, and boost local economies through increased tourism. Other goals of the Program program are to facilitate partnerships at the local, state, and national levels and to help recreational visitors understand the multiple uses of BLM land through interpretative signs and information. As of June 1990, BLM had designated 34 Back Country Byway routes covering 1,644 miles in length in 11 western states. Back Country Byways are divided into four types, which range from paved roads with grades negotiable by passenger automobiles to trails designed for off- road vehicles, trail bikes, or snowmobiles. Like the Forest Service, BLM identifies and designates routes using specific designation criteria. BLM also seeks concurrence from local and state officials when routes being considered for designation traverse state or local jurisdictions. Like the Forest Service, BLM has established partnerships to help pay for promotional or other costs associated with Back Country Byways. BLM has a cooperative agreement with the American Recreation Coalition which, in turn, has formed partnership agreements with the Farmers Insurance Company and American Isuzu Motors Corporation. These companies provide funding for maps, brochures and signs, entrance sta- tions, and interpretive waysides along the routes. A BLM official told us that because of the funding agreements with private companies, BLM has reduced the amount of federal funds spent on the program. Page 32 GAO/RCED-90-241 National Scenic Byways Program Appendix IV Federal Scenic Byway Programs and Activities Although federal involvement in scenic byways has been evident since Prior Federal Scenic the 1930s interest in creating a national system of scenic byways did Byway Studies not emerge until the 1960s. In 1962, the federal Recreation Advisory Council recommended the development of a national program of scenic roads and parkways and tasked the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Public Roads to study the development of such a program. The study, published in 1966, recommended development of a $4 billion national scenic roads program over a lo-year period. Also, in 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson hosted a White House Conference on Natural Beauty, which produced legislative proposals for scenic improvements and preservation along the nation’s roadside. Such efforts led to enact- ment of the 1965 Highway Beautification Act, which provided for con- trol of junkyards and outdoor advertising and increased expenditures for landscaping and other scenic enhancements. Implementation of a national scenic road program did not occur during the late 1960s and early 1970s because of competing budgetary and policy demands, according to the Federal Highway Administration (F’HWA). In 1973, the Congress directed FHWA to study the feasibility of devel- oping a national scenic byway program. The purpose of the study was to develop an inventory of the nation’s scenic roadways, identify measures for preserving and enhancing those resources, and identify costs and issues related to implementing a scenic highway program. On the basis of data submitted by states and federal agencies, the inventory con- sisted of 1,781 scenic byway routes totalling 93,000 miles. About 81,000 of those miles were on existing routes, with the remainder proposed as new construction. The study identified five major components of a byway system that would have to be addressed if a national scenic byway program were created: l National designation of scenic routes, which would require minimal investment and designated certain existing highways or highway seg- ments as components of a national system. Special signs could be erected, maps and brochures published, and a media promotion program established. l Scenic enhancement and corridor protection, in which attention would be directed to preserving and enhancing the scenic qualities of selected highway corridors. Various means would be considered, including the purchase of additional rights-of-way or the procurement of scenic easements. Page 33 GAO/RCED-99-241 National Scenic Byways Program . Appendix IV Federal Scenic Byway Programs and Activities l Complementary facilities, aimed at improving scenic highway use by upgrading the condition of existing facilities, such as overlooks, picnic areas, walkways, and water facilities, and adding new ones. l Urban emphasis and energy efficiency, to improve and protect scenic resources within an hour’s travel of major population centers. l National connectivity, a small program in which emphasis would be to improve access to recreation areas and to link recreation resources, including scenic highways, and, historical, scientific, and cultural sites to one another. The study recommended that a series of high-quality scenic highways be designated which would cost between $800 million to $1.8 billion over a lo- to 20-year period. The study cited no technical barriers to estab- lishing a national system of scenic highways. However, given the need to conserve energy resources at that time, the study concluded that it was not in the national interest to establish a new Federal-Aid Highway cate- gorical grant program exclusively for the construction or reconstruction of scenic highways. In 1986, the President’s Commission on Americans Outdoors reempha- sized the importance of recreational driving for many Americans. The Commission made three recommendations concerning scenic byways: 1. State and local governments should create a network of scenic byways, on the basis of their own criteria and standards, and take actions to preserve resources along those roadways and thoroughfares. Byway designations should be based on local land-planning guidelines and zoning ordinances. 2. The Congress should establish an incentive program of matching grants to local and state governments to encourage scenic byway desig- nations. Grants, initially funded for 2 years from Highway Trust F’und revenues, could be used for safety improvements, removal of inappro- priate billboards, and construction of scenic vista or interpretive turn- outs, or picnic or sanitary facilities. 3. Information concerning scenic byways should be made available through partnerships between the private sector and all levels of gov- ernment. Local and state governments should determine which roads and routes should be part of the byway system. The federal government could provide technical assistance and grants to encourage byway desig- nation but should not mandate program activities. Private organizations, local chambers of commerce, historic preservations offices, and natural Page 34 GAO/RCED-90-241 National Scenic Byways Program . . Appendix IV Federal Scenic Byway Programs and Activities heritage organizations should also play an integral part in identifying and designating scenic byways. In response to the interest of the President’s Commission in scenic byways, several federal agencies have studied scenic byways further. In 1988, for example, the Federal Highway Administration published the book Scenic Byways, which provided definitions and a history of byways as well as many examples of local, state, and federally desig- nated byways. The book was published as a reference guide for partici- pants at the Scenic Byways 1988 national conference. In 1989, the Federal Task Force on Rural Tourism recommended that a “national policy on scenic byways” be developed to stimulate rural tourism and economic growth. There has also been recent interest in the Congress and by states and private organizations in creating a national scenic byways program. As a result, in November 1989, the Congress requested that FHWA conduct a nationwide study of scenic byways. The study, to be published in November 1990, will include an updated national inventory of existing scenic byways; guidelines for developing a national program, case studies on the economic impact of byways, and an analysis of the safety and environmental consequences of byway designation. Page 35 GAO/RCED-W241 National Scenic Byways Program . Appendix V . Objectives, Scope, and Methodology In a May 19, 1989, letter and in subsequent discussion with his office, the Chairman, Subcommittee on Foreign Commerce and Tourism, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, asked us to (1) determine the characteristics of selected scenic byway programs and activities, (2) determine the criteria states use to designate byways, and (3) identify issues raised by scenic byway officials concerning the crea- tion of a national scenic byways program. To address these objectives, we analyzed 27 scenic byways programs and activities in 10 states: Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Minne- sota, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, and Wis- consin. These states were selected because they provided a sample of byway programs and activities that were diverse in size, geographic location, and program purpose. On the basis of discussions with FHWA officials, we also contacted four states without byway programs-Loui- siana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Wyoming-to determine their rea- sons for not having a byway program and to obtain their views concerning a national scenic byway program. In each state, we interviewed state and private-sector officials in trans- portation, natural resource, tourism, and other agencies responsible for managing byway programs or activities. We obtained agency or organi- zational documents and reports pertaining to scenic byways. We also conducted a telephone survey of managers of 27 programs and activities in 10 states. The survey asked questions about their programs and activities and their views on the creation of a national scenic byways program. We interviewed federal officials responsible for administering scenic byway or byway-related programs, including FHWA officials in Wash- ington, D.C., and in various field offices, and officials of the U.S. Forest Service; Bureau of Land Management; NPS; and U.S. Travel and Tourism Administration. At each agency, we obtained any relevant scenic byway-related documents, studies, or reports. To identify issues which should be considered if a national scenic byway program were created, we also interviewed officials with seven private groups with an interest in scenic byways: the American Automobile Association, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, American Recreation Coalition, Highway Users Federation, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Scenic America, and the Travel and Tourism Government Affairs Council. We selected these groups on the basis of their activities, interest, and knowledge relating to scenic Page 36 GAO/FtCELb90-241 National Scenic Byways Program :_, I
Scenic Byways: A National Program, if Created, Should Be Small Scale
Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-09-28.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)