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Oklahoma Gets Byways Program Grant

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Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Oklahoma will team up with two other states on a Route 66 travel guide after receiving a federal grant of more than $1 million to improve and enhance its scenic byways program.

Oklahoma has eight scenic byways -- roadways with signs and attractions along the way that highlight the historic or cultural aspects of the area. The roadways travel through mountains and Panhandle landscapes as well as trace the trail of tribal history.

For two years, Oklahoma has been among the top 10 states getting federal funds for interpretive roadway projects, said Richard Andrews, byways program coordinator .

"Oklahoma has one of the most unique collection of byways in the nation," he said. "It's one of the best ways to see the state."

During the 2008 fiscal year, Oklahoma received more than $1 million in grants from the Federal Highway Administration. This year, the money will pay to build an interpretive center in Talihina, near the beginning of the Talimena National Scenic Byway.

Another grant will be used to help complete the Standing Bear Museum along the Osage Nation Heritage Trail.

Grants also will be used along portions of historic Route 66 to improve street banners in Erick and develop a marketing plan in Stroud.

The national scenic byways program began in the early 1990s, and Oklahoma started participating in 1995, said Richard Andrews, byways program coordinator and state Transportation Department project management division assistant manager.

In the past year, 221 byway projects in 43 states were selected for federal grants. Andrews said the strength of the proposed projects helps Oklahoma continue to receive more federal dollars than most states.

"It's just a great opportunity for Oklahoma to tell its story," Andrews said. "If you stop and think about it and look around, there's a lot of diversity here. The byways are a great way for Oklahoma to tell its story."

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