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America's Byways(R): National Scenic Byways Online

URL: http://www.byways.org/

This section focuses on a unique overseas website related to civil engineering IT. This issue features " America's Byways(R): National Scenic Byways Online (NSBO)," which promotes "The National Scenic Byways Program" as a part of Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

"Roads to the Heart and Soul of America" -- Providing Resources by Recognizing Roads that are Outstanding Examples of Scenic or Historical Qualities
According to its website, the National Scenic Byways Program is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, FHWA. The Program is a grass-roots collaborative effort established to help recognize, preserve, and enhance selected roads throughout the United States. The program was introduced under the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991. Since 1992, the Program has provided funding for more than 2000 byway projects throughout the country.

As the Program puts it, "The National Scenic Byways Program recognizes highways that are outstanding examples of our nation's beauty, history, culture, and recreational experience by designating them as All-American Roads and National Scenic Byways. The roads being featured were designated by the Secretary of Transportation from nominations submitted by the states and federal land management agencies. These designations provide a compass for people from all over the world to explore America's treasured open roads."

To be specific, certain roads are recognized as National Scenic Byways or All-American Roads based on one or more archaeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational, and scenic intrinsic qualities. The former must possess at least one of these six intrinsic qualities, while the latter must possess multiple intrinsic qualities that are nationally significant and contain one-of-a-kind features that do not exist elsewhere. By satisfying high requirements, those Byways are guaranteed to be the primary destination for a trip for users, providing exceptional travel experiences. The Federal Highway Administration promotes the collection of the designated roads as the America's Byway(R). The website expresses such Byways as "roads to the heart and soul of America."

The vision of NSB program is "to create a distinctive collection of American roads, their stories and treasured places." The mission is "to provide resources to the byway community in creating a unique travel experience and enhanced local quality of life through efforts to preserve, protect, interpret, and promote the intrinsic qualities of designated Byways."

At present, there are 126 America's Byways in 44 states, including 99 National Scenic Byways, 27 All-American Roads, and 18 multi-state Byways.

Covering All America's Byways(R), The Website is Full of Traveling Information About Roads and Roadside
The website has four major menu items: "Explore Byways," "Share Experience," "About Byways," and "Press Room." "Explore Byways" shows a national map that locates "All-American Roads" and "National Scenic Byways," as well as a List of America's Byways(R) by states. Clicking the name of a road or searching by selecting a state, one can access to each road with pictures in a particular page.

For example, a page for "Natchez Trace Parkway" sums up a historical background that various people such as Native Americans and government officials all moved across this trail that extends over the States of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama, as well as its scenic natural features like forests and swamps. In addition, it offers several sightseeing plans to enjoy the ride. As "Explore Byways" section is so structured that one can get necessary pieces of information one after another by tracing links, it is effective not only in planning a sightseeing trip but also enjoying a desktop tour. Moreover, it provides all the essential information including maps, visitor services such as camping, gasoline and restrooms, and calendar.

Location Map of "All-American Roads" and "National Scenic Byways", from "Explore Byways" (Reprinted by courtesy of NSBO)

Expressing the Fascination of Byways with Photos and Contributions

The website is enriched with devices to express the charms of unique Byways spreading all over the United States, with the above 4 menu items as cores. In addition to providing America's Byways(R) map free to the public, it shows a lot of landscape photographs, for example. The top page has a photo slide show covering all 126 Byways, with their spectacular views that extend on the hills and coasts, in four seasons. Clicking one of these photos, the information page for the particular Byway opens up.

"Share Experience" collects contributed information from users who have actually visited Byways. The records of their trips are arranged, sometimes with the pictures of wild lives they encountered along the way: a bear or an alligator, for example. "Press Room" contains the outline of NSB Program and its news, press releases, and others. Image Library holds scenic photographs of the Byways, which can be downloaded or sent as E-postcard. As a whole, the website does not simply list the valuable roads designated as "America's Byways(R)," but also creates an opportunity to cultivate interests in, and knowledge about, American history, culture, and nature.

Top page: America's Byways: National Scenic Byways Online
(Reprinted by courtesy of NSBO)

This article is written based on the above website with the permission of NSBO.