Full committee markup of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2024 became available on Thursday. Included in this markup was $20 million for the National Scenic Byways Program (NSBP) as administered through the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
Scenic America has been front and center in the effort to both restore and ensure continuous funding for America’s scenic byways. As a result, this year’s appropriations bill marks the fourth consecutive year that the NSBP has received funding, signaling an encouraging pattern for this critical program.
Since being revitalized by the Reviving America’s Scenic Byways Act of 2019, the NSBP has been funded in the amount of $42 million from FY21-23. This year’s budget will bring a total of over $60 million in funding to the NSBP since the program’s reinstation, when signed into law by the president later this year.
“We are very pleased to hear that America’s scenic byways remain a priority to both the House of Representatives and the Senate,” said Scenic America President Mark Falzone. “This year’s proposed funding equates to roughly half of what the program has received in total over the last three years, so we are very encouraged and reassured by this development.”
The full text of the FY24 Department of Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) can be found here, with direct language outlining the $20 million in funding for the NSBP found on page 61.
“We owe our sincere gratitude to members of the Senate and House Committees on Appropriations, as well as the members of the Senate and House Subcommittees on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies for their support,” said Falzone. “They understand the importance of America’s byways as not only vessels for commerce and tourism, but as historical and cultural icons of our nation. The story of America can be told on our nation’s byways, and we are so grateful that our Congress recognizes this as well.”
The final language of the FY23 appropriations bill included $20 million for the NSBP, which was signed into law by President Biden in January of this year. Prior to that, the NSBP was funded at $16 million in FY22, and $6 million in FY21.
Scenic America is especially grateful to Chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations Senator Susan Collins (R-MA), Chair of the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), Ranking Member of the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MI), Chair of the House Committee on Appropriations Representative Kay Granger (R-TX), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Appropriations Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Chair of the House Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Representative Tom Cole (R-OK), Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Representative Mike Quigley (D-IL), as well as Representatives Chris Pappas (D-NH) and Garrett Graves (R-LA).
The NSBP was established by Congress in 1991 under the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) to recognize and protect historic, archaeological, recreational, natural, scenic, and culturally important roads, and to promote tourism and economic development. Congress strengthened the program further with the passage of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) in 1998 and subsequently with the passage of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act – A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), in 2005.
Scenic America led an advocacy effort to revitalize the program, which culminated in the passage of the Reviving America’s Scenic Byways Act of 2019 and has since secured $42 million in funding for the program through the FY21-23 appropriations acts.
Scenic America continues to advocate for the program’s long-term funding and a regular designation process.