Byways and Corridor Management Plans

A Corridor Management Plan (CMP) is a written plan developed by the communities along a scenic byway that outlines how to protect and enhance the byway’s intrinsic qualities and character that define their byway corridor.

Most states, and the National Scenic Byways Program, require corridor management plans (CMP) for scenic byway designation. CMPs are community-based and flexible “living documents” that outline the goals, strategies, and responsibilities for preserving and promoting the byway. CMPs typically address issues such as tourism development, historic and natural preservation, roadway safety, and economic development.

A CMP is designed to change with the community and respond to new proposals and developments along the byway corridor and they are often guided by the “14-point plan” recommended by the National Scenic Byways Program.

What’s in a Corridor Management Plan?

Corridor management plans address a wide variety of issues. The level of detail in a CMP is dependent upon its role in the community and the byway planning process. If the CMP is intended solely for the local community, the document can be fairly short and address issues in broad terms. However, a more detailed plan will be necessary if the CMP is to form the basis of state or national scenic byways applications, or for grant and other funding applications.

It is important to remember that the CMP is a guide that addresses issues but does not necessarily offer solutions for every problem. The CMP should address major goals, such as improved road access for other modes of transportation, like bicycles, but does not have to lay out a specific plan for implementing the goal.

At the very least, a CMP should identify and discuss the byway’s intrinsic qualities, review the roadway’s current condition and maintenance plans, explore visitor needs and expectations, and discuss how to promote the byway while protecting its outstanding features in the future.

Federal Highway Administration’s 14-points

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) lists 14 components that must be in any CMP included in a byway’s application for national recognition. The CMP will help your byway group envision future changes and address issues before they become a problem.

The FHWA requirements for a CMP are:

  • A map identifying the corridor boundaries, location of intrinsic qualities, and land uses in the corridor. U. S. Geological Survey maps of your corridor region are ideal and inexpensive base maps for your corridor management planning group.
  • An assessment of the byway’s intrinsic qualities and their context (the area surrounding them). The end product is typically a catalogue of the byway’s scenic, historic, natural, archeological, cultural, and recreational qualities. A community visual assessment is an ideal way to involve a large number of local residents in evaluating the byway’s resources.O Say Can You See: A Visual Awareness Toolkit for Communities, available from Scenic America, is a good way to start.
  • A strategy for maintaining and enhancing each of the byway’s intrinsic qualities. Ask what you want the byway corridor to look like in 10-15 years and develop goals and strategies to help you get there.
  • A list of the agencies, groups, and individuals who are part of the team that will carry out the plan. Be sure to include a description of each individual’s responsibilities and a schedule of when and how you will review their progress.
  • A strategy for how existing development along the corridor might be enhanced and how to accommodate new development while preserving the byway’s intrinsic qualities. Many communities have long-term land-use plans that can be adapted for this purpose.
  • A plan for on-going public participation. This might include forming a CMP steering committee made up of local citizens, a schedule of regular public meetings, or a byway management planning forum.
  • A general review of the road’s safety record to locate hazards and poor design, and identify possible corrections. Identify ways to balance safety with context-sensitive highway design practices that accommodate safety needs while preserving the road’s character.
  • A plan to accommodate commercial traffic while ensuring the safety of sightseers in smaller vehicles, as well as bicyclists, joggers, and pedestrians. Some CMP’s incorporate plans to apply for Federal Transportation Enhancement funds to pay for the installation of special bicycle lanes along the byway or the creation of hiking trails.
  • A listing and discussion of efforts to minimize anomalous intrusions on the visitor’s experience of the byway. This might include landscaping to screen an industrial site, relocating utility wires and poles, or planning for the sensitive location of wireless telecommunications towers along the byway.
  • Documentation of compliance with all existing local, state, and federal laws about the control of outdoor advertising. Federal regulations prohibit all new billboards along designated scenic byways that are classified as federal-aid primary, national highway system, or interstate roads. States are free to impose stricter controls on billboards along scenic byways. Your CMP should also address the continuous designation of the road to ensure that billboard companies will not be able to find a loophole in your byway designation that would allow them to erect billboards along the corridor.
  • A plan to make sure that the number and placement of highway signs will not get in the way of scenery, but still be sufficient to help tourists find their way. This includes, where appropriate, signs for international tourists who may not speak English fluently. Two popular and effective ways of addressing this issue are logo signs and tourist-oriented directional signs (TODS). Logo signs are located on interstate highway rights-of-way and advertise gas, food, camping, and lodging at nearby exits. Highway-oriented businesses can advertise their company’s symbol, name, trademark, or a combination of these things on a logo sign. A few states, like Utah and Maine, provide TODS primarily on non-interstate rural highways to help motorists find local businesses. TODS indicate only the name of local attractions, mileage to the establishment, and direction.
  • Plans for how to market and publicize the byway. Most marketing plans highlight the area’s intrinsic qualities and promote interest in the byway that is consistent with resource protection efforts and maintenance of the byway’s desired character.
  • Any proposals for modifying the roadway, including an evaluation of design standards and how proposed changes may affect the byway’s intrinsic qualities. Byway groups should work with their state department of transportation to adopt context-sensitive highway design standards for the byway. Context-sensitive design takes into account the area’s built and natural environment; the environmental, scenic, aesthetic, historic, community, and preservation impacts of a road project; and provides access for other modes of transportation.
  • A description of what you plan to do to explain and interpret your byway’s significant resources to visitors. Interpretation can include visitor centers, leaflets, audio tours, information panels, and special events. In this category, creativity makes a big difference.

Adapted from: “National Scenic Byways Program”. Federal Register. Vol. 60, No. 96. Thursday, May 18, 1995. View this document here: Federal Register – National Scenic Byways Program

Examples of Management Plans

Learn more about scenic byways: