Tennessee, North Carolina Collaborate on Byway E-Guide

The Tennessee Department of Transportation and the North Carolina Department of Transportation have joined forces to create a new electronic guide called the “Mountain Byways of Tennessee & North Carolina.”

[Above photo by Tennessee DOT]

The new web-based e-guide is available for free by visiting https://www.tn.gov/tdot/ScenicRoadways and is for travelers to the areas of East Tennessee and Western North Carolina.

Butch Eley. Photo by Tennessee DOT.

“Travelers treasure the beauty of East Tennessee’s mountains, and we are thrilled to partner with our friends at NCDOT to deliver a comprehensive tool that showcases the many scenic drives the region has to offer,” said Butch Eley, who serves as Tennessee DOT commissioner as well as deputy governor, in a statement.

“Tens of millions of visitors come to the Great Smoky Mountains and National Forests annually,” he added. “We hope this e-guide will be a welcome resource for travelers as they plan their trips.”

The “Mountain Byways of Tennessee & North Carolina” e-guide includes enhanced mapping and route planning features, as well as clickable hyperlinks to attractions. The resource also functions as a PDF when printed at home.

The e-guide showcases visitor experiences and attractions found along 14 individual Scenic Byway routes located adjacent to either Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cherokee National Forest, or the Nantahala National Forest, and details the scenic views, outdoor recreation sites, historic sites, or cultural experiences available at each local.

The 14 Scenic Byway routes highlighted in the e-guide include:

  • Tennessee (four Scenic Byways): East Tennessee Crossing National Scenic Byway, Great Smoky Mountains Byway, Ocoee River Byway, Norris Freeway National Scenic Byway;
  • North Carolina (eight Scenic Byways): Appalachian Medley, Big Horse Creek Byway, Fontana Byway, Highlands of the Roan, Interstate 26 Scenic Highway, Mission Crossing, Nantahala Scenic Byway, Waterfall Scenic Byway;
  • Tennessee & North Carolina Multi-State (two Scenic Byways): Cherohala Skyway National Scenic Byway, Newfound Gap Road.

State departments of transportation support many types of scenic byway projects across the country.

For example, in July 2021, the Ohio Department of Transportation helped open the new 54-mile-long Quaker Heritage Scenic Byway that seeks to foster a “new awareness” of cultural and historical diversity in rural southwest Ohio with stops along the way telling the story of Quakers who migrated to the region from the late 18th to the late 20th centuries.

Photo via the Ohio DOT

The agency explained that the Quaker Heritage Scenic Byway reveals “numerous layers” of local history such as Quaker interactions with Native American communities, agriculture and land use, abolitionism, and religious practices – all identified through historical research, digital mapping, and told through “interactive” narratives.

Meanwhile, the Federal Highway Administration issued $21.8 million in grants to 33 National Scenic Byways Program or NSBP projects in May 2023, with 27 of those sponsored by state DOTs and five awarded to tribal applicants.

Established by the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991, the NSBP funds improvements, such as byway facilities, safety improvements, and interpretive information, along roads in the United States that merit recognition at the national level for their outstanding scenic, historic, cultural, natural recreational and archeological qualities, FHWA noted.

The agency added that the 2021 Congressional appropriations package included $16 million for the NSBP – the first Congressional appropriations for the program since 2012 – while the 2022 appropriations package provided an additional $6 million for the program, noted FHWA.

The nearly $22 million offered in that round of NSBP funding came from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act enacted in November 2021.

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