The role of the Program is not only to designate eligible roads but also to educate communities about scenic byways and the benefits that accompany byway status. In addition, technical assistance and guidance are provided as sponsors proceed through the application process. The Georgia Scenic Byways Program will also work with byway sponsors to develop strategies to combine preservation with enhancement through Corridor Management Plans.
Scenic Byway Program Levels
The National Scenic Byways Program was created by Congress in 1991. It requires application to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The national program has two categories of designation. National Scenic Byways possess outstanding qualities that exemplify the regional characteristics of our nation. All-American Roads are our country's finest byways. They are considered destinations unto themselves. The National Scenic Byways Program requires designation at the state level first and the completion of a corridor management plan. Georgia is among 48 states that have established statewide scenic byway programs. Once a road is named a Georgia Scenic Byway, it becomes eligible to be nominated to the federal program.
The purpose of designating routes is not only to display the historic character and natural beauty of Georgia but also to allow communities to take an active role in protecting their resources, while at the same time, to create new opportunities along the routes. Specifically, the benefits of designation can be divided into five broad categories:
The recognition of a route by local leaders and the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) will, no doubt, foster local pride in the route and the intrinsic qualities along it. Only designated byways will be permitted to display the Georgia Scenic Byways logo. GDOT will produce logo signs, and place them along designated corridors. The logo may also be used on state transportation maps to identify designated byways. In addition, GDOT and other state agencies may produce marketing materials that showcase the attractions along Georgia's Scenic Byways.
Scenic byways are links to Georgia's past. The buildings and landscapes along a byway tell the story of the people who lived along the route. Local byway organizers will interpret their stories and make them accessible and interesting to visitors. The Georgia Scenic Byways Program will be available to help provide local groups with on-site technical assistance to interpret their byway.
Planning for Protection/Enhancement
Local citizens and groups from each designated byway are required to establish and implement their own plan to identify and protect the byway's character. This "Corridor Management Plan" is a key element in the Georgia Scenic Byways Program. It provides a mechanism whereby individual citizens can work together to protect the resources and heritage along designated byways. The process also provides a framework for participating in the comprehensive plan for the region's enhancement possibilities.
Promotion and Marketing
The Georgia Scenic Byways Program is linked to other promotional efforts throughout the state. The Georgia Department of Economic Development's advertising program may feature attractions along designated scenic byways. The Department of Natural Resources may work with local groups to help develop their resources. In addition, businesses along designated corridors may also be permitted to use the Georgia Scenic Byways logo in their promotional materials.
Training and Technical Assistance
The designation process for the Georgia Scenic Byways Program is intended to be easy to follow. To assist local citizens, GDOT will work with the Regional Commissions to help local leaders learn more about the program. In addition, local groups may request individual site visits. GDOT will provide advice at any point in the designation process.
Scenic Byways And Outdoor Advertising
Under federal law, no new billboards may be constructed along designated scenic byways that are also part of the Federal-aid primary or Interstate System. On-premise signs are unaffected by scenic byway designation. Existing billboards may remain and continue to be maintained along designated scenic byways. The law also allows the erection of logo signs and tourist-oriented directional signs on scenic byways.
National Scenic Byways Program
Established by the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA), and initiated by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the National Scenic Byways Program recognizes highways that best exemplify the nation's culture, history, and landscape through designation as either National Scenic Byways or All-American Roads. The program also provides grants to assist state scenic byways programs and state designated scenic byways. Grant proposals are solicited annually and compete against all byways nationally. To be eligible for the National Scenic Byway status or the National Scenic Byway grants, a byway must first be designated as an official state scenic byway.