Scenic Highways

Notice of Funding Opportunity – FHWA National Scenic Byways Program

1. Background

The Department of Transportation Appropriations Act, 2021 (Public Law 116-260), enacted on December 27, 2020, appropriated $16 million in Highway Infrastructure Program (HIP) funds for the National Scenic Byways Program (NSBP) under 23 U.S.C. 162.  The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022, enacted on March 15, 2022, appropriated an additional $6 million, making up to $22 million available in HIP funds for the NSBP.  Under 23 U.S.C. 162(b), grants and technical assistance are to be made available to States or Indian Tribes to (a) implement eligible projects on highways designated as National Scenic Byways or All-American Roads (America's Byways®), State scenic byways, or Indian Tribe scenic byways; and (b) plan, design, and develop a State or Indian Tribe scenic byway program. Prior to 2021, discretionary funding for the NSBP was last authorized in 2012 under the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-102, March 30, 2012).

2. NSBP 2022 Grants and Technical Assistance

The NSBP 2022 Grants and Technical Assistance Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) is now available. Only State DOTs and Indian Tribes are eligible to apply for the NSBP discretionary grant. However, State scenic highway or federal byway organizations may work with a Caltrans or Tribal government to apply. California State Scenic Highway or America's Byways organizations* are encouraged to propose allowable projects or planning activities to Caltrans. *Byway Organizations must work with an entity that has Master Agreement with Caltrans in order to submit a proposal.

Program guidance available here: 2022 NATIONAL SCENIC BYWAYS PROGRAM Grants and Technical Assistance -693JJ322NF00008

Program requirement: Completed Letter of Intent

Letters of Intent are strongly encouraged so that review panels, comprised of relevant subject matter experts, may be organized in advance of receipt of final proposals. Since Caltrans must submit the Letters of Intent to FHWA, Caltrans requests that local governments/byway groups submit their Letters of Intent to Caltrans in advance of the FHWA deadline. Please email the completed Letter of Intent (PDF) form to Lara.Justine@dot.ca.gov no later than 5:00 p.m., on April 15, 2022.

Program requirement: Completed Application for 2022 National Scenic Byways Program Grants

Applications for the 2022 National Scenic Byways Program Grants NOFO must be submitted to Caltrans in advance of FHWA’s deadline. California State Scenic Highway or America's Byways organizations/entities should submit their applications to Caltrans no later than 5:00 p.m. on June 1, 2022.Prior coordination with Caltrans is crucial to completing and submitting an application to Caltrans by May 2.

Program requirement: Current Master Agreement with Caltrans

A Master Agreement is required with a local agency whenever federal or state funds are to be used on a local assistance project.

3. NSBP 2022 Grants NOFO Overview Webinar

FHWA will be conducting a webinar to provide information about the NSBP 2022 Grants NOFO. Topics include an overview of the National Scenic Byways Program grants, grant funding eligibility, requirements, and process for submitting a grant application, key FHWA deadlines, and next steps post award. Information to register for the webinar is provided below.

Topic: National Scenic Byways Program 2022 Grants Notice of Funding Opportunity Overview Webinar

Date and Time: Thursday, March 31, 2022 from 2:30-4:00 p.m. EDT
Register: https://usdot.zoomgov.com/webinar/register/WN_D6bEx7oRRpuCfifP_fTR-w

4. FHWA  Resources

These FHWA links are resources for your reference as you are preparing your National Scenic Byways Program grant application.

These FHWA resources from previous grant rounds are currently archived but may be helpful for illustrative purposes.

California State Scenic Highways

Gaviota Coast State Scenic Highway

The above photo shows the Gaviota Coast State Scenic Highway, in the County of Santa Barbara.  This officially designated segment of Highway 101 travels through one of the longest remaining rural coastlines in southern California, along 21 miles from the City of Goleta’s western boundary, to Route 1 at Las Cruces. Photo credit: County of Santa Barbara Gaviota Coast Scenic Highway Proposal.

Introduction

The Department of Transportation (Caltrans) manages the State Scenic Highway Program. Caltrans provides guidance to local government agencies, community organizations and citizens that are pursuing the official designation of a State Scenic Highway.

Scenic Highway Program History

In 1963, the State Legislature established the California Scenic Highway Program through Senate Bill 1467 (Farr). The bill declared:

"The development of scenic highways will not only add to the pleasure of the residents of this State, but will also play an important role in encouraging the growth of the recreation and tourist industries upon which the economy of many areas of this State depend."

Senate Bill 1467 added Sections 260 through 263 to the Streets and Highways Code. In these statutes the State proclaims intent to:

“establish the State's responsibility for the protection and enhancement of California's natural scenic beauty by identifying those portions of the State highway system which, together with adjacent scenic corridors, require special conservation treatment." (Scenic corridors consist of land that is visible from, adjacent to, and outside the highway right-of-way, and is comprised primarily of scenic and natural features. Topography, vegetation, viewing distance, and/or jurisdictional lines determine the corridor boundaries.)

Existing law provides Caltrans with full possession and control of all State highways. This legislation places the Scenic Highway Program under the stewardship of Caltrans.

The legislation further declares the intent of the State to assign responsibility for the regulation of land use and development along scenic highways to the appropriate State and local governmental agencies. A county highway component was later added to the Scenic Highway Program in Section 154 of the Streets and Highways Code.

Scenic Highways Guidelines

  • Provides guidance on the process for officially designating a California State Scenic Highway (PDF is undergoing an update for ADA compatibility)

Example of Scenic Highway Proposal and Corridor Protection Program

State Scenic Highway Map

State Scenic Highway Map

Scenic Highway System Lists

  • List of eligible and officially designated State Scenic Highways (XLSX)
  • *Obtaining State recognition as an officially designated County Scenic Highway requires following the same Scenic Highway Program process that applies to State Routes. See the Scenic Highway Guidelines (PDF) *for more information.

    Frequently Asked Questions