House Passes Cicilline Bill to Generate New Economic Activity for Rhode Island

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives today passed Congressman David N. Cicilline’s (RI-01) Reviving America’s Scenic Byways Act (H.R.831), a bill that directs the U.S. Department of Transportation to restart the National Scenic Byways Program. The bill, which Cicilline introduced in the House along with Republican Congressman Garret Graves (LA-06), now heads to the U.S. Senate, where it has been introduced by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME).


“As Rhode Islanders know, our state is home to some of the most beautiful scenic byways in the country,” said Cicilline. “This bipartisan bill will allow us to capitalize on our state’s natural beauty and generate millions of dollars in new economic activity. I’m pleased that this bill passed the House today and I look forward to seeing it signed into law.”


Beginning in 1991, the Department of Transportation’s National Scenic Byways Program designated 150 roads as “National Scenic Byways.” Communities receiving the designation have been able to generate millions in new economic activity. Rhode Island is one of four states - along with Hawaii, Nebraska, and Texas – that has never received a Scenic Byway designation. If Cicilline’s bill becomes law, roadways like Paradise Avenue on Aquidneck Island and Route 102 – which spans Foster, Glocester and Burrillville – will have the opportunity to compete for the valuable designation.


One report from the University of Minnesota in 2010 found that travelers on the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway and the Lake Country Scenic Byway provided $21.6 million in economic activity for the area. Another study in Utah in 2013 found almost $13 million in annual economic activity from Scenic Byway 12.


“Louisiana’s historical byways weave through her natural beauty and help tell the story of our history and unique culture,” said Graves. “They are critical to preserving our heritage, growing our economy for the future and caring for our rural communities.”  


Roads competing for a National Scenic Byway designation must possess one of six qualities: scenic quality, natural quality, historic quality, cultural quality, archaeological quality, or recreational quality. In addition, they must establish a plan for managing the roadway in order to conserve and enhance its intrinsic qualities. Although nearly four dozen scenic byways are currently ready to apply for new nominations, Congress cut off funding for the National Scenic Byway Program in 2012.


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