Byways 101

Part 2: Intrinsic Qualities & The Byway Story

Where Are Your Corridor Boundaries?

As you begin to inventory your byway’s resources and develop your byway’s story, think of where your corridor logically begins and ends, and how wide it will be to incorporate all of your route’s features. Sometimes this is a fairly self-evident decision; however, it’s often one that will continue to evolve and change as your group evaluates the roadway and environment, political boundaries and other realities.

Length
Simply put, your corridor should be long enough to incorporate the roadway’s special resources and qualities. Ideally, this occurs at visually logical points, such as a distinct change in land use or environment—perhaps the edge of town, the peak of a hill, or the center of a river. In many cases, however, no such distinct visual change occurs, and your determination will be based on regional boundaries or other factors.

In some instances, you may not have a continuous corridor. While it’s best if a scenic byway is a complete and unbroken experience, some communities are faced with interruptions or intrusions (commercial strips or political boundaries, for example) that can’t be easily accommodated.

Think first about whether there might be a way to include the problem area in your scenic byway corridor by mitigating, softening or camouflaging the distractions, and by building coalitions with groups across political boundaries. If this cannot be accomplished, work to ensure that the points of entry into and departure from the byway are well defined and that direction is clearly provided between byway segments so you don’t lose travelers in non-designated areas.

Width
Some scenic byways programs define the corridor using a standard but arbitrary distance on either side, such as 1000 feet or a quarter mile. This technique makes it easy to define the corridor, but its accuracy is low; in some areas with trees or buildings, it may extend for just a few feet; in others, it may extend for miles.

Ideally the corridor limits should be considered as everything within the road’s viewshed—that is, everything visible through your car windows. If dense trees border your roadway, your corridor viewshed will be very narrow at that point. Farther down the route, if you can see distant mountains over the farmland, you have a very broad viewshed to consider.

The more extensive the viewshed, the more complex your management plan will be. Determine what parts of your viewshed are vital to maintaining the integrity of your corridor. This is important: You don’t have to include the whole viewshed in what you want to manage, just the visually significant parts of it.

In some instances, effective management of a scenic byway may involve a corridor management plan for a primary corridor and a secondary plan addressing more distant resources that are less easily managed or less critical to the primary resources.

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