Affirming our role as the leading advocate for scenic byways, Scenic America scored another big win for our nation’s most notable roadways this year, securing an additional $6 million in funding for the National Scenic Byways Program in the 2022 Consolidated Appropriations Act. These funds, along with the $16 million allocated to the program in the FY 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act, represent the byways program’s first dedicated funding in nearly a decade. The allocation of this second round of byways funding came as welcome news during a challenging budget environment, as war in the Ukraine caused defense spending to soar, prompting cuts in many other areas. In its advocacy work, Scenic America argued that byways deliver important benefits; they fuel economic development and job creation in areas alongside the designated routes, and they help to halt the proliferation of billboards and other scenic blight.
Scenic Byways Coalition who amplified our advocacy efforts, and we profusely thank the thousands of supporters who responded to our action alerts by urging their representatives and senators to endorse this essential funding. Just one day after the legislation was signed, on March 16, the Federal Highway Administration announced the opening of its grant application cycle for both the FY 21 and 22 appropriations allocations, a total of $22 million. However, the announcement also included an extremely tight deadline that was likely to deter many smaller and short-staffed organizations from applying. Scenic America jumped into action again, developing a targeted action urging the FHWA to extend its deadline and broaden its criteria for a more inclusive process. Using the alert, nearly 1,000 byways supporters reached out to the FHWA to demand a longer application window and other modifications. As a result, the FHWA extended the deadline and clarified its criteria. Through victories like these, Scenic America further affirms its leadership role as a guiding force in the byways community. In validation of our role, we have participated in byways dedication and ribbon-cutting events for the newly dedicated Chesapeake Country and Scenic A1A Historic Highway All-American Roads and have been featured speakers at various byways-related events.
Recognizing the significant scenic and economic benefits the byways program delivers, Scenic America will continue to pursue other funding opportunities, including working through the FY 23 appropriations cycle, which at press time, included $30 million in byways funding in the House’s legislation, to ensure that the program thrives for many miles into the future.