Maine is among 43 states that will receive $40.7 million for 160 projects to improve and promote highways designated as scenic byways, Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez said Friday.
The Blackwoods, Fish River, Old Canada Road, Schoodic Scenic and Seboomook Scenic byways will receive $359,114 of the federal grant money, FHA officials said in a press statement released Friday.
The grants are part of the Federal Highway Administration’s National Scenic Byways Program, which recognizes and provides funding for roads designated locally or nationally as having outstanding scenic, historic, cultural, natural, recreational and archaeological qualities.
The largest portion of funding goes to the Old Canada Road Scenic Byway, $225,874, which will be used to complete the Forks Area Scenic Trail over the next three years.
The rest of the funding goes for recreational access rights or corridor planning or management funding, officials said.
The Blackwoods Scenic Byway runs on Route 182 between Franklin and Cherryfield, while the Fish River byway runs on Route 11 between Portage Lake and Fort Kent. The Old Canada is along Route 201 in the upper Kennebec River Valley.
The Seboomook Scenic Byway is 49 miles of Route 15 from the Indian Hill Rest Area in Greenville northwest to the intersection of Route 15 and U.S. Route 201 in Jackman.
The Schoodic runs along parts of U.S. Route 1 and Route 186 on Frenchman Bay and the Schoodic Peninsula.
With roots back to Lady Bird Johnson’s Highway Beautification Act of 1965, the scenic byways program languished from a lack of funding in Maine from the 1970s to 1993, when some funding was restored.
The funding can be used for roadside improvements — such as parking, signage and road-shoulder work, including bicycle lanes or walking paths — developed around a theme by local committees that can apply for scenic road funding.
Since 1992, the National Scenic Byways Program has awarded almost $388 million in funding for more than 2,832 state, tribal and nationally designated byway projects in the 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.