All National, State, and Tribal Scenic Byways and All-American Roads are eligible for National Scenic Byways Program discretionary grants through the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
Funding can be used for any of the following:
- An activity related to the planning, design, or development of a State or Indian tribe scenic byway program.
- Development and implementation of a corridor management plan to maintain the scenic, historical, recreational, cultural, natural, and archaeological characteristics of a byway corridor while providing for accommodation of increased tourism and development of related amenities.
- Safety improvements to a scenic byway to the extent that the improvements are necessary to accommodate increased traffic and changes in the types of vehicles using the highway because of the scenic byway designation.
- Construction along a scenic byway of a facility for pedestrians and bicyclists, rest area, turnout, highway shoulder improvement, overlook, or interpretive facility (must be within or immediately adjacent to the byway’s right of way).
- An improvement to a scenic byway that will enhance access to an area for the purpose of recreation, including water related recreation.
- Protection of scenic, historical, recreational, cultural, natural, and archaeological resources in an area adjacent to a scenic byway.
- Development and provision of tourist information to the public, including interpretive information about a scenic byway (however product advertising is not permitted with grant).
- Development and implementation of a scenic byway marketing program.
In 2012, the last year grants were awarded, 125 Byways in 44 states were awarded grants for projects ranging from installing new interpretative and directional signs to building visitor centers and rest areas. Delaware was awarded $840,500 in funding for the Route 9 Coastal Heritage Scenic Byway, which allowed Delaware Greenways to enhance and create scenic overlook areas at six sites along the Byway. Improvements included new observation platforms, interpretative signs and information kiosks, a pedestrian trail, and other amenities.
You can view an archive of other previously funded projects on the FHWA website.
Grants are submitted through the state DOTs or Indian tribes who rank the applications and send them to FHWA, who ultimately awards the discretionary grants. According to the guidelines published by the FHWA in past grant cycles, priority is given to projects that are consistent with:
- The corridor management plan developed for the Byway or for the development of such a plan to make the Byway eligible for national designation
- Projects that are associated with the development of a State or Indian tribe Scenic Byway Program
Additional selection criteria include:
- Greatest strategic benefits
- Project benefits
- Projects meeting critical needs
- Ready to implement
- Funding expenditures
- Leveraging of private or other public funding
Projects submitted for consideration should benefit the Byway traveler’s experience, help manage the intrinsic qualities that support the Byway’s designation, shape the Byway’s story, interpret the story for visitors, or improve visitor facilities along the Byway.
Once the FHWA selects a project for funding, the applicant must work with their State Byway coordinator, Indian tribe Byway coordinator, and/or the FHWA division office Byway contact to implement the project and to be reimbursed for eligible expenses.
The Federal share of the total project cost is 80 percent. Federal land management agency funds may be used to match National Scenic Byways Program funds in cases of byways that are public roads providing access to or within Federal or Tribal land.
The following types of projects or activities are not typically eligible for National Scenic Byways Program funds:
- Streetscaping and local sidewalks.
- Routine road construction and maintenance.
- Routine landscaping, vegetation management and maintenance.
- Preserving a pool of possible properties, rather than a specific property or properties.
- Local trail projects that do not have a direct relationship to the byway
- National Scenic Byways Program funds cannot be used to prepare grant applications for National Scenic Byways Program funds or any other Federal-aid highway funds
A road is not eligible for a grant if it fails to protect the integrity of the intrinsic qualities along a Byway and its adjacent areas.
We suggest that you work with your state Department of Transportation Byway coordinator to discuss the particulars of your intended project to get their support, which should improve your chances of success.