Out to boost tourism, counties wish to add MS Scenic Byways

From staff and press reports

It was the success of other Mississippi Counties Like Hancock county which recently received $800,000 to upgrade its scenic byways that sparked discussions of unified branding and creating a Mississippi Scenic Byway for Choctaw, Winston, Noxubee, and Oktibbeha Counties .

The proposal for what may be Mississippi’s newest Scenic Byway includes a number of sightseeing riches that could each easily draw tourists while standing alone but with a paved route linking them all would be a cache of scenery.

The proposed byway would link the county routes serving the public lands of the Tombigbee National Forest, Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge, and Mississippi State University (MSU).

Winston County is presently working on paving and bridge repair of the routes with Public Lands Highway funds.

Bluff Lake Road which is a 3 mile improvement project hopefully will complete the paving of the section of the Noxubee Hills Route (NHR) which runs from four lane Hwy 25 to four lane Hwy 45 in early 2013.

Winston County has also applied for another grant this year through FHWA’s Public Lands Highways Discretionary (PLHD) program to improve and pave the 5 miles on Gumbranch-Hwy 25 Road section of the NHR between the paved Sturgis Road and four lane Hwy 25.

When the projects are completed, traveling in the are will be greatly approved and will assist tourists wishing to see the natural scenery of Mississippi.

The counties along with the Winston County Economic Development Partnership have submitted to the state for Scenic Byways designation and are in the third phase of designation.

To get the signage and marketing that comes with the title, routes must complete three phases: eligibility, designation and implementation, the byway site states. Scenic Byways must link “intrinsic resources” that are “exceptional, significant and distinctive,” each of which could be considered “a destination unto themselves.” The county and partnership filed for the designation in January and await review and approvals to be sent to the Mississippi Legislature in January 2013 for final approval.

The program aims at the preservation, protection, and enhancement of the state’s intrinsic resources. Intrinsic resources are features considered significant, exceptional and distinctive by a community and are recognized by that community as worthy of preservation and management.

The National Scenic Byways Program is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration.

The program is a grassroots collaborative effort established to help recognize, preserve and enhance selected roads throughout the United States. Since 1992, the National Scenic Byways Program has funded 3,049 projects for state and nationally designated byway routes in 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. The U.S. Secretary of Transportation recognizes certain roads as All-American Roads or National Scenic Byways based on one or more archeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational and scenic qualities which must be approved by the state scenic byways program first.