236.18 Scenic Byways

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236.18.1 Program Overview

The Missouri Byways Program is a statewide partnership designed to provide recreational, educational, and economic benefits to Missourians through the designation, interpretation, protection, promotion and infrastructure development of outstanding routes in Missouri. The routes must contain exceptional examples of any of the following six intrinsic qualities: cultural, historical, archeological, natural, scenic and recreational. The Missouri Byways Program is also part of a national program consisting of All-American Roads, national scenic byways and state scenic byways.

The national program was established by the passage of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991. ISTEA created a Scenic Byways Advisory Committee and directed them to develop a national scenic byways program and encourage individual states to institute state scenic byways programs.

The General Assembly passed state statute 226.797 which gave the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission authorization to create a state system of scenic byways. Further rules governing the Missouri Byway Program can be found in Title 7 – Department of Highways and Transportation, Division 10 – Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission, Chapter 12 – Scenic Byways.

236.18.2 Designation of a Byway

Individuals, groups, organizations or agencies may nominate any route for byway designation. No route will be designated without the full support of all governing bodies along the proposed byway. This document is designed to help guide applicants through the byway designation process, corridor management plan development and complete application submittal.

A proposed byway designation is often started when a few individuals, agencies or organizations become aware of some intrinsic value present in the area. These individuals may collect information in enough detail to form a concept of a byway route and the focus the resources would support. Their effort should include an explanation of the purpose, the proposed route, the proposed benefits and the process involved in developing and managing the byway. When considering a route for byway designation, the byway group needs to determine how much support there is and how much more could be developed, what value the byway designation could provide the area and what costs may occur as a result of developing the byway.

If there is sufficient interest to proceed with considering a byway designation the next step is to establish an organizational structure to provide leadership. A public meeting must be conducted to inform the local government entities and gain local support. In order to have support and acceptance for a proposed byway designation, the community needs to know and understand the process by which conclusions and plans were reached and what potential impact it will have to the community. The key for a successful byway initiative is to involve the public in developing the vision for the byway. The earlier the public is involved, the better. The group organizing the designation effort must also recognize that successfully nominating and managing a byway requires a significant commitment of time and energy.

The intrinsic qualities along and adjacent to the proposed byway are the basic elements necessary for considering a route as a potential byway. The resources can be off the actual route. It is important to identify and locate these features in order to formulate a theme that describes the significance of the proposed byway. When selecting the theme, identify a larger concept that will make the potential byway stand out and accommodate the majority of the resources along the route.

All resources along the byway have potential to attract tourists. The inventory could reveal one or more features that characterize the area. The features that have the most significant potential to tell the story serve as the basis for the theme. Many of the features may have potential to support more than one theme. An inventory report can be developed and should include a map of the proposed byway with significant resources identified along the proposed route. The location and description of the features and their importance to the theme of the byway should also be in the report.

The byway theme should interpret the intrinsic qualities and strive to give the visitor a picture of the whole byway. The route should be interpreted in relationship to the life and times of its past, present and future. Commercial and industrial zones are excluded from official byway designation.

Routes designated as a Missouri Byway may also seek federal designation as an All-American Road or national scenic byway, but it is not necessary for state byways to obtain either of these designations. In order to qualify for nomination as an All-American Road or national scenic byway, the byway must first receive official designation under the state's byways program. All-American Roads must have national significance, which contain at least two intrinsic qualities that are significant on a regional level, and are recognized nationally as being unique or the most outstanding examples of their kind. National scenic byways must contain at least one intrinsic quality and are representative of a geographic area encompassing two or more states. For more information about All-American Roads and or National Scenic Byway designation visit https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/hep/scenic_byways/.

236.18.3 Benefits of a Byway

A variety of benefits are possible with the designation of a byway. First is the inherent value of recognition. Designating a specific route as a byway calls attention to the intrinsic qualities of the area and signifies its outstanding character. This awareness may generate support for promoting the unique nature of the area. Visibility for the area will be provided through maps and promotional materials produced by the byway group. Second, the awareness of the significance of the area will generate interest in seeing and understanding the intrinsic resources of the area, thereby increasing community recognition and the potential of utilizing tourism as an economic development strategy. Communities may also use the byway designation as a source of pride and to promote the quality of life of the area in an effort to attract new businesses and residents. This development may involve community planning and development efforts such as main street projects, community beautification, restoration projects and other efforts to enhance the area. Communities may develop facilities (parks, overlooks, etc.) and interpretive programs (exhibits, displays, media presentations, etc.) adjacent to the route in order to attract visitors and encourage longer stays. When a route is designated, the activities associated with scenic byways themselves become eligible for Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) funding for improvements such as interpretive centers, overlooks and viewing areas.

236.18.4 Promotion of a Byway

Visitors to the area may not be familiar with the history and folklore of the route. This lack of understanding by visitors creates an opportunity for the interpretation of the scenery. When visitors stop to see the features and learn about the area, they will probably spend time and money. Without some form of interpretation or educational materials, many visitors will simply drive along the byway without stopping. This reduces the potential for economic activity for the area. Wayside exhibits and interpretive signing associated with features along the route encourage visitors to stop and learn about the uniqueness of the intrinsic qualities of the byway.

The uniqueness of a theme is the story to be told along the byway. The story may utilize a wide range of interpretive methods and techniques. Methods could include self-guided brochures, interpretive signs, CDs, DVDs, publications, exhibits, displays or social media tools. In some situations, a personal interpretive service could be provided, such as guided hikes, demonstrations and illustrated talks.

The method(s) used to interpret the intrinsic qualities of the byway should be selected based on the nature of the resource, the features along the route and the capability of the byway group to manage and maintain the interpretive program. In some cases, a museum or a wayside exhibit could be developed or expanded.

In addition to interpreting the byway, the byway group should promote the byway to attract visitors. Marketing and promotional plans are a critical part of the corridor management plan.

Each of the communities along the route should be encouraged to promote the byway through their convention and visitor bureaus, chambers of commerce and local tourism organizations. Their efforts could include exhibits at visitor information centers, brochures and maps distributed throughout the region and at state tourism information centers, and providing information on the internet.

Effective promotional items should include, at a minimum, a map that shows the byway route, communities and highways in the area; length in miles of the byway and driving time; special considerations such as available services, road conditions, vehicle restrictions, safety issues and other conditions that could be a safety factor; special features such as color pictures of fall colors, winter snow or major intrinsic features; contact agency or organization (name, address and phone) and local amenities such as places to eat and lodging.

236.18.5 Project Submittal

1. Eligibility. Any agency, group, or individual may nominate a road or highway for scenic byway designation by following the application procedures provided below. This includes the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) and the Scenic Byway Advisory Committee described in 7 CSR 10-12.030(3).

2. Application. Unless otherwise indicated by the MoDOT program manager, applicants must submit: one (1) original and one (1) electronic copy of the application package for nominating a road or highway for official scenic byway designation. The application should be sent to:

Missouri Department of Transportation
Attention: Scenic Byways Advisory Committee
PO Box 270
Jefferson City, MO 65102.

The package should be in a typed eight and one-half inches by eleven inches (8 1/2" X 11") paper format and include the following in the order presented:

a. The application should include a cover letter that requests nomination for scenic byway designation of the identified route and describes the benefits to state and local communities of such designation. Local support letters from the community may also be included.
b. A table of contents for the application package.
c. A data sheet that consists of:
1. Date of application;
2. Contact name and name of the nominating individual or organization;
3. Address, phone, fax number and email address;
4. Route name and number;
5. Total mileage of the proposed scenic byway;
6. Communities adjacent to the proposed scenic byway (cities/counties/towns); and
7. Paragraph containing reasons for scenic byway designation.
d. The applicant should include a detailed description of the proposed location and relevant historic significance according to the program guide instructions. Beginning and ending locations of the proposed byway should be clearly identified on an official state or county map. Supplementary hand drawn maps may also be included to define features or points of interest. Distance from all points of interest to the proposed byway; should be indicated.
e. Descriptions of any or all of the following points of interest:
1. Cultural/historical/archeological;
2. Recreational resources;
3. Natural or scenic resources;
4. Seasonal aspects (fall foliage, etc.); and
5. Special events that occur along the route.
f. A brief overview of the history of the area and sites that relate to the proposed byway's history is recommended.
g. Indicate how areas adjacent to the proposed byway are zoned including all commercial and industrial areas.
h. Photographs in plastic covers of the area. Videos or slides are also acceptable.
i. A corridor management plan that provides the community’s vision of the proposed byway and outlines a process of commitment to specific strategies and actions to manage the route over time.

3. An action plan should be included in the corridor management plan. This action plan should provide general goals for a five (5)-year period with more specific goals for the first year. This action plan should include timelines and schedules for the following:

a. Protection for the maintenance of points of interest, scenic and historic qualities of the proposed byway;
b. Proposed improvements or developments along the route and any promotional or marketing activities;
c. Proposed public involvement allowing for local participation in the development of the corridor management plan; and
d. Availability of financial resources to upgrade, develop, promote and otherwise make the scenic corridor available for its intended uses. If no funding is currently available, indicate how the applicant plans to locate funding sources.

236.18.6 Corridor Management Plan

A Corridor Management Plan (CMP) is required as a part of the byway designation application. It provides evidence that the applicant(s) have a comprehensive understanding of the route and the intrinsic values. It provides evidence that the intrinsic qualities are recognized. It provides a strategy for enhancing and preserving the resources of the byway that is supported by the local entities. It may also establish the foundation for utilizing the byway as an economic development strategy.

The CMP must recognize that the intrinsic qualities of the byway will be enhanced when designated as a byway. This designation will increase visitation and the need to provide visitor services, such as interpretative signs, literature, overlooks and parking. The increase in visitation may prompt an interest in business expansion and new investments. The increase in business activities represents economic potential. However, in order to preserve the unique features of the byway, the applicant(s) need to develop strategies to protect and develop its intrinsic qualities.

A CMP must contain the following items:

1. A narrative description showing identification and location of the route and its corridor, including a map showing the entire byway.
2. Description of the physical condition of the road, such as the road surface, the condition of the shoulders, bridges and other features that affect safety. An assessment of its safety must also be discussed. Any safety concerns may be noted and keyed to the byway map(s).
3. A narrative identification and description of the intrinsic qualities along the byway. The primary attractions and services along the route must be noted and keyed to the byway map(s).
4. Strategies of how intrinsic qualities will be managed and interpreted. For instance, strategies to maintain and, in some cases, enhance the corridor of the byway such as guardrail improvements, parking, interpretive signs, trash receptacles or other strategies to enhance an overlook. Interpretation can be provided along the corridor with self-guided brochures, CDs, DVDs, signs or social media tools.
5. Strategies of how the byway will be marketed and promoted, explaining the various marketing strategies for the byway. It may include signs, brochures, websites and exhibits.
6. Identify and describe the resources already in place and how they will meet the needs and expectations of residents, visitors and local businesses. Each of the resources along the byway represents a potential for residents and local businesses. As an attraction, tourists and residents alike can use the attractions as an educational and recreational resource. In addition, a listing of restaurants or overnight accommodations may be included. This section should identify and describe how all people can utilize these resources.
7. Describe the implementation strategies planned by the byway group, including how and when the byway group will implement the strategies planned along the byway. This section could include explanations of plans to work with city parks and recreation departments, state parks, etc.; to develop interpretive signs; special events and festivals and explanation of strategies to work with city, county and state highway departments to enhance parking, signage and safety features.

236.18.7 Scenic Byway Advisory Committee (SBAC)

The Scenic Byways Advisory Committee (SBAC) consist of members from stakeholders and affected agencies by scenic byway designation. The SBAC plays a significant role in the review and selection process of new scenic byways and in maintaining the standard these byways shall be held. The SBAC consists of member from each of the following:

a. The Missouri Division of Tourism;
b. The Missouri Department of Conservation;
c. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources;
d. The Missouri Outdoor Advertising Industry;
e. The Missouri Department of Transportation;
f. The American Automobile Association;
g. The University of Missouri-Historic Preservation;
h. Scenic Missouri, Inc.;
i. Missouri Chamber of Commerce; and
j. Missouri Retailers Association.

236.18.8 Byway Designation Process

1. Composition and completion of the application and the corridor management plan as discussed in EPG 236.18.5 Project Submittal and EPG 236.18.6 Corridor Management Plan.

a. Develop byway initiative;
b. Organize a leadership structure;
c. Obtain public input;
d. Conduct public meetings;
e. Compose inventory report;
f. Develop theme;
g. Draft corridor management plan; and
h. Draft application.

2. Formal submittal to:

Missouri Department of Transportation
State Byway Coordinator
P.O. Box 270
Jefferson City, Missouri 65102

3. MoDOT initial application review;

4. Ninety (90)-day application modification period if required per the initial review;

5. Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) provides written notice to all governing bodies informing them of the nomination and requesting zoning information;

6. MoDOT project prioritization report detailing traffic, accident and safety data;

7. Review by Scenic Byway Advisory Committee (SBAC)

a. Evaluation of intrinsic qualities
b. Application Rating

8. SBAC recommendation

a. Ninety (90)-day correction period if required

9. Written notice of intent published in general circulation newspapers

a. Thirty (30) days for all governing bodies to host a public hearing
b. Ninety (90) days each governing body must submit approval/rejection and notes from public hearing;
c. All governing bodies must support proposed byway designation for nomination to move forward;

10. Final SBAC review

a. Ninety (90)-day correction period;

11. SBAC recommendation to the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission (MHTC) for formal designation;

12. MHTC review and approval;

13. Designation agreement signed between MHTC and byway group;

14. Press conference by byway group (optional); and

15. Missouri Byway signs installed by MoDOT.

236.18.9 Missouri Byway Map and Contacts

236.18.10 7 CSR 10-12.010 to 10-12.030

236.18.11 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

236.18.12 Definitions

Archaeological is the study of the physical evidence of the human past. Evidence can include ruins, artifacts, structural remains and other evidence of human activity. To qualify, the byway must possess physical remains as evidence of the human past. The remains must be accessible to the public.

Byway means a public road having special scenic, historic, recreational, cultural, archaeological and/or natural qualities that have been recognized as such through legislation or some other official designation. The terms "road" and "highway" are synonymous.

Corridor means the right of way and the adjacent area that is visible from and extending along the road or highway.

Corridor Management Plan means a written document that specifies the actions, procedures, controls, operational practices and administrative strategies to maintain the intrinsic qualities of the byway.

Cultural is the expression of the customs or traditions of a distinct group of people. Cultural expressions may be found in, but not limited to, crafts, music, dance, rituals, foods, festivals, speech, special events or vernacular architecture. One or more of these cultural qualities could serve as the basis for a byway with a cultural theme.

Historic is the legacies of the past distinctly associated with physical elements of the landscape, whether natural or manmade. Examples could include buildings, settlement patterns, or other examples of human activity.

Intrinsic Quality means archaeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational or scenic features that are considered representative, unique, irreplaceable or distinctly characteristic of the area.

Local Commitment means assurance provided by communities along the byway that they will undertake action, such as zoning and other protective measures to preserve the integrity of the byway and the adjacent area as identified in the corridor management plan.

Natural refers to the environmental features that are in a relatively undisturbed state. They must be representative, unique, irreplaceable or distinctly characteristic of the area. Examples may include geological formations, landforms, fossils, bodies of water, vegetation and wildlife.

Recreational refers to the outdoor activities directly associated with and dependent upon the natural and cultural elements of the corridor's landscape. Examples may include, but are not limited to downhill skiing, rafting, boating, fishing, hiking and biking. They may include both passive and active recreational experiences.

Regional Significance means characteristics that are representative of the geographic area encompassing two or more states.

Scenic is the heightened visual experience derived from the view of natural and man-made elements along the byway. This quality is based on the existence of significant scenic views and the absence of features that distract from its overall image. Scenic features and views should be frequent enough to give a sense of continuity to the drive along the byway. Scenic views should relate to the landscape and create a coherent image, while the scenic features should provide some variety rather than a continuous view of the same landscape.

Scenic Byways Advisory Committee means the group of public representatives and private agencies that administer the Missouri Byways Program.

State Byway means a road or highway under state, federal or local ownership that has been designated by the state through official declaration for its intrinsic qualities.