Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, introduced legislation Tuesday that would repeal the byways program, according to an email from Vickie Ashcraft of the association.
Sure enough, the American Energy and Infrastructure Act of 2012 contains this text on Page 201:
(k) NATIONAL SCENIC BYWAYS PROGRAM.—Section
8 162, and the item relating to that section in the analysis
9 for chapter 1, are repealed.
Six of the eight Route 66 states have attained Byway or All-American Road status for Route 66. The program has given out thousands of dollars in grants to help Route 66 tourism over the years.
Supporters of the Byways programs are urged to contact the committee and ask the panel to eliminate the program’s repeal language. One letter to the committee was forwarded to me; you can use part of this excerpt if you wish:
With a national effort to implement new efforts to attract international visitors and create jobs, we cannot put at risk a proven tool like the system of 150 All-American Roads and National Scenic Byways. […]
The Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway, as well as the other federally designated roadways across the U.S., have been an integral part in developing and strengthening the economies of our country’s rural and metropolitan communities.
Byways are extremely important today as an international tourism marketing tool and will become even more important with the advent of the Corporation for Travel Promotion/Brand USA efforts to regain our lost share of international travel and create jobs. Claims of international significance for our byways are indeed substantiated. The new organization set up to market the US to international visitors, Brand USA, has a chart showing its marketing plan. One of the four experience pillars Brand USA is targeting is the Great Outdoors – and Byways are prominently listed along with National Parks. In fact to a considerable extent, Byways fit into all four pillars. We have $200 million available to attract visitors and create jobs through this initiative – Abolishment of the proven and successful National Scenic Byways Program would take away one of the prime marketing assets for countless communities and regions.
Abolishing the National Scenic Byway Program would be devastating to our Byway, our state and th entire country. Our Byways have done incredible work and made great strides to impact tourism, economic development and transportation under the National Scenic Byway Program. Byways across the country have leveraged the National Scenic Byway Program designation to obtain funds from other federal, state and local funding resources to make a significant impact on American transportation, our visitor-based economy, on community livability and protection of our natural resources – just to name a few.
It might also be a good idea to refer to the recently released Route 66 Economic Impact Report when writing the committee. It makes a very good case on why historic preservation is a very efficient cog in the U.S. economy.
UPDATE: The National Scenic Byways Foundation has instructions on who to write and how on its home page.