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June 15, 2000

Four Illinois Highways Receive Scenic Byway Designation

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced four Illinois highways have been selected as scenic byways under a federal program that promotes awareness and access to scenic, cultural, historic and natural features along these highway corridors.

The four scenic byways announced today are the Lincoln Highway, crossing northern Illinois from Indiana to Iowa border; the Great River Road that parallels the Mississippi River; the National Road from the Indiana border near the Wabash River to the St. Louis Metro East area; and an extension of the Meeting of the Great Rivers route from Alton to south of Hartford.

"These routes offer a wealth of history and unique scenic beauty," Governor Ryan said. "Travelers can literally take trips back in time and gain new appreciation of Illinois’ rich heritage."

With the byways designation these routes are eligible to compete for $25 million in federal discretionary funding. Eligible projects include construction of visitor’s centers, roadside informational kiosks and turnouts, and the development of brochures, maps and other promotional materials.

"I invite Illinois citizens as well as out-of-state travelers to explore these byways," Ryan said.

Lincoln Highway generally follows today’s US 30. In Illinois it begins at the Indiana border, east of Lynnwood, and proceeds 180 miles to the Iowa border at Fulton. The route passes through Cook, Will, Kendall, Kane, DeKalb, Ogle, Lee and Whiteside counties. The Illinois segment is part of the national coast-to-coast Lincoln Highway, America’s first paved transcontinental highway stretching from Times Square in New York to Lincoln Park in San Francisco. It was completed in 1913. Points of interest along the route in Illinois include original pavement sections and various Lincoln sites.

Great River Road parallels the Mississippi River from its source in Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. Illinois’ segments wind for over 550 miles through 15 counties. In addition to the many scenic river views and vistas, this route has a wealth of historic connections, from Native American settlements to early European frontiersmen and settlers and river towns along the Mississippi.

The National Road goes back to 1806 when the U.S. Congress appropriated monies to construct the road westward from Cumberland, Maryland to the Mississippi River. The road, known earlier as Cumberland Trail, has been incorporated into US 40. The 162-mile section in Illinois runs from the Indiana

Illinois border near the Wabash River to the Illinois-Missouri border in the St. Louis metropolitan area. The National Road in Illinois is known for rolling countryside views, the quality of its historic architecture and opportunities to explore historic pike towns.

Meeting of the Great Rivers Extension. A seven-mile extension is being added to the Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway designated in 1998. The extension runs from Alton to south of Hartford and connects two major attractions -- the national Great Rivers Museum at Lock and Dam #26 near Alton and the proposed Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, south of Hartford. The interpretive center will serve as the eastern gateway of the Lewis and Clark Expedition Bicentennial during 2003-2006.

"These scenic byways tell fascinating stories about the importance of transportation in the development of Illinois. Early pioneer trails, inland waterways, railroads and paved roads all helped shape the history and destiny of our state," said Illinois Transportation Secretary Kirk Brown.

The designation of these four routes brings the number of Scenic Byways in Illinois to five. In 1998, two highways were selected as Scenic Byways: the first section of the Meeting of the Great Rivers Byways that runs along the Mississippi

River from Alton to Kampsville and the Ohio Scenic River Route which parallels the Ohio River from the Indiana border near New Haven to Cairo.

The designations allow Illinois to become a national center for byway travel. The scenic byways will be important focal points for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs (DCCA) in their effort to promote tourism.

"The fact that Illinois now hosts five National Scenic Byways highlights the diverse array of natural beauty found throughout our state," said DCCA Director Pam McDonough. "We believe these byways will enhance our efforts to promote Illinois as a premier tourist destination for families traveling cross-country and for foreign visitors who want a taste of Americana."


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