Byways 101

Part 4: Planning, Action & Nomination

Learning Objective #4: Regional Or National Significance

Describe the importance of establishing the “regional or national significance” of your byway’s intrinsic qualities.

How Is “Significance” Defined?

Formal designation as a byway under a State, Indian tribe, Federal land management agency or the National Scenic Byways Program implies that your road has something uniquely special, or “significant” to share with the traveler. Designation as one of America’s Byways® through the National Scenic Byways Program is a formal recognition of the value of a byway’s resources and the story it has to share with the country as a whole.

Byways seeking designation under a State, Indian tribe, or Federal lands scenic byways program should check with their respective scenic byway coordinator to discuss evaluating the significance of their route. Each can establish specific criteria used to evaluate the significance of resources and a road under that program.

The National Scenic Byways Program Definition and Levels of “Significance”

For byways seeking designation under the National Scenic Byways Program, it is necessary to demonstrate that your route has “regional or national significance.”

The Interim Policy for the National Scenic Byways Program defines regional significance to mean “characteristics that are representative of a geographic area encompassing two or more States.” (FHWA Interim Policy, May 18, 1995)

The National Scenic Byways Program recognizes two levels of significance in the designation of National Scenic Byways and All-American Roads, and the requirements for each.

  • Regional Significance: National Scenic Byways
    To be designated as a National Scenic Byway, a road or highway must significantly meet at least one of the six scenic byways intrinsic qualities. The characteristics associated with the intrinsic qualities are those that are distinct and most representative of the region. The significance of the features contributing to the distinctive characteristics of the corridor’s intrinsic quality are recognized throughout the region. (FHWA Interim Policy, May 18, 1995)
  • National Significance: All-American Roads
    To be designated as an All-American Road, the road or highway must meet the criteria for at least two of the six intrinsic scenic byways qualities. The road or highway must also be considered a destination unto itself. To be recognized as such, it must provide an exceptional traveling experience that is so recognized by travelers that they would make a drive along the highway a primary reason for their trip. The characteristics associated with the intrinsic qualities are those which best represent the nation and which may contain one-of-a-kind features that do not exist elsewhere. The significance of the features contributing to the distinctive characteristics of the corridor’s intrinsic quality are recognized nationally. (FHWA Interim Policy, May 18, 1995)