Senator Lamar Alexander was one of two recipients on Tuesday, of the Scenic Byway Trailblazer Award from Scenic America, the National Scenic Byway Foundation and the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership. Senator Alexander was recognized at an event celebrating the 25th anniversary of the National Scenic Byways Program.
He said, “When I was governor of Tennessee in 1985, President Ronald Reagan asked me to chair the President's Commission on Americans Outdoors, and he challenged those of us on the commission to look ahead for a generation and tell the country how we can best protect our outdoor spaces.
In our report we emphasized that most outdoors recreation occurs close to home, near towns or cities where 80 percent of us live. So, we recommended more land trusts, greenways, city parks and scenic byways. That led me to work with the Tennessee legislature to create 10,000 miles of state roads and scenic highways with no new billboards, because we knew tourists came to Tennessee for the scenery, not the billboards. The Great American Outdoors is blessed with natural beauty, and I look forward to maintaining our opportunities to enjoy it.”
The National Scenic Byway Foundation supports the National Scenic Byways Program, which was created in 1991 by the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act to provide federal funding for maintenance and improvement projects on federally-designated National Scenic Byways.
According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) there are currently 150 designated National Scenic Byways and American Roads in 46 states, including five that pass through Tennessee:
- Cherohala Skyway –Passes through North Carolina and Tellico Plains;
- East Tennessee Crossing – Between North Carolina and the town of Cumberland Gap
- Great River Road – Between from Minnesota and Louisiana, runs through West Tennessee;
- Natchez Trace Parkway –Between Nashville, through Alabama and Jackson, Mississippi
- Woodlands Trace – Between Garand Rivers, Kentucky and Dover, Tennessee.
Bud Wright, executive director for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, also received the award.