Government designates 36 more scenic routes in effort to boost tourism

Thursday, June 13th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Just in time for the summer travel season, the federal government is adding 36 highways to its list of scenic, historic or recreational roads known as America's Byways.

The roads added to the list Thursday include 71 miles of Florida Route A1A along the Atlantic Ocean; a 234-mile route along the Hudson River north of Albany, N.Y., to Lake Champlain; and the Country Music Highway along U.S. 23 in Kentucky, passing the hometowns of such country stars as Loretta Lynn, Ricky Skaggs and Dwight Yoakam.

The additions bring the total to 95 byways in 39 states. They are eligible for a share of $25 million in federal funds awarded annually.

Some of the byways are so significant that officials say they warrant a special trip, such as the old National Road (U.S. Route 40) from Maryland through Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, which opened the Midwest to settlers in the early 1800s.

The National Scenic Byways Program was created in 1991 to protect historic and scenic roads and promote tourism and economic development.

Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta said the byways offer Americans spectacular views, recreational areas, or historic sites close to home.

``If the economy is down, people are still able to travel and not have it hit their pocketbooks as much,'' Mineta said. ``It's close by and it's significant.''

The new routes range from the 9.5-mile Arroyo Seco Parkway in Los Angeles, a part of the Pasadena Freeway, to the 8,834-mile Marine Highway across the southern coast of Alaska.

The list is being released at a time when air travel, though coming back, remains below pre-Sept. 11 levels.

``Instead of going to Europe or Disneyland, people are looking to closer spots,'' Mineta said. ``They're not denying themselves vacations; they are getting in their cars and going to places closer to home. This may be a form of patriotism for a lot of folks, seeing sights and sounds near home rather than jumping on an airplane and going far away.''

A complete list of scenic byways is available at SCENIC BYWAYS