The U.S. Senate has just passed three FY24 appropriations bills, including the FY24 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill. Included in this bill is a noteworthy allocation of $20 million for the National Scenic Byways Program (NSBP). This bipartisan vote signifies a continued commitment to support the NSBP from both sides of the aisle.
The FY24 THUD appropriations bill was joined in passage by the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MilCon-VA) and Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies bills—all three of which passed out of Committee unanimously–in an 82-15 vote on November 1.
In July, the Senate Appropriations Committee released the full language of their FY24 THUD appropriations bill. This markup included $20 million for the NSBP. The same committee in the House of Representatives included $0 for the NSBP.
Regardless, the recent allocation of $20 million underscores the Senate’s recognition of the program’s integral role in preserving the nation’s scenic treasures, and when signed into law by the president, will add to the $42 million already secured by the program since FY21. The bill must now go through consideration by the U.S. House of Representatives.
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 National Scenic Byways Program, administered by the Federal Highway Administration, has long been a champion of safeguarding the scenic, cultural, and historic assets that define the American landscape. Since its inception in 1991, the program has designated and supported numerous scenic byways, allowing travelers to experience the diverse beauty and heritage of the United States.
The inclusion of $20 million in the THUD appropriations bill for the National Scenic Byways Program reflects a commitment to investing in both infrastructure and the aesthetic appeal of America’s roadways. Scenic byways not only offer breathtaking views but also serve as vital routes connecting communities, supporting local economies, and promoting tourism. This funding acknowledges the dual importance of maintaining roadways for practical purposes while preserving the cultural and natural heritage that lines these routes.
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.