[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) announced today that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has awarded $1,039,722 in grants to the Illinois Department of Transportation for the National Scenic Byways Program. Under the program, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation recognizes certain roads as National Scenic Byways or All-American Roads based on their archaeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational, and scenic qualities. There are 126 such designated Byways in 44 states – 7 in Illinois.
According to the DOT the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has awarded the following National Scenic Byways Discretionary Grants to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT):
• National Road, Vandalia: $101,750 in funding to develop a primary interpretive center – a facility to house exhibit materials and interpretive guide and planning materials. The facility will help stimulate the economy of the National Road Heritage Corridor by promoting and preserving our cultural and historic resources in order to increase tourism.
• Ohio River Scenic Byway, Southeastern Illinois: $49,568 in funding to develop and implement a much needed hospitality training program and community outreach campaign for the businesses and communities along the byway. The program will train front-line service employees to provide excellent customer service and offer more information on what sites, attractions and activities are available to visitors.
• Great River Road, Godfrey: $263,508 in funding to construct a bridge across Piasa Creek to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians. The bike path and bridge will provide an optional, safer route of travel through a part of the byway rich in scenery and history.
• Great River Road, Collinsville: $229,296 in funding to create multimedia iPod tours of Cahokia Mounds, a World Heritage Site. In addition, a complimentary series of online multimedia educational activities and lesson plans will be developed for home and classroom use. This project, geared toward young travelers, will heighten family and school interest in the site, properly interpret the Cahokia story, increase visitation, increase visitor participation and enhance learning opportunities.
• Historic Route 66 Corridor, Statewide: $395600 in funding to construct experience hubs and implement a new byway sign program. The experience hubs will create an identifiable, quality Route 66 structure for displaying interpretations about the byway. The new byway signs will replace faded, out-dated and missing signs. Some areas of the byway are unsigned and the new signs will correct that situation. Both projects will improve the ability of travelers and visitors to find their way.