The National Road In Ohio Seeks National
Scenic Byway Status
Submitted by Keith Bennett, P.E., P.S.
The Ohio Historic Preservation Office along with communities
located along the National Road, are pursuing National Scenic
Byway designation for this historic roadway. Designating the
National Road in Ohio as a scenic byway could lead to numerous
benefits for counties and communities through which the road
runs. These benefits could include a higher level of national
recognition and opening the areas along the route to tourism,
marketing and promotional opportunities.
The National Road is a significant part of the history of Ohio
as well as the nation. It was the first Federally funded interstate
highway. It was constructed across six states: Maryland, Pennsylvania,
West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. The National Road
in Ohio is 220 miles in length and the longest stretch of the
road in the six states. The road extends through ten counties
in Ohio. Construction of the National Road began in Cumberland,
Maryland in 1811 reaching Wheeling, West Virginia in 1818. Construction
in Ohio began in 1825. The plan for the National Road to extend
to the banks of the Mississippi was never fully realized.
Construction ended in Vandalia, Illinois in the mid 1830's
due to shortages of funding. In 1927, the National Road was
designated U.S. Route 40. During this period, alignments were
straightened, hillsides were cut, some of the original S-bridges
were replaced and several of the villages along the route were
The construction of the National Road included several experiments
in road paving techniques. The first section of graded gravel
macadam pavement on a Federal project was installed. Several
sections of early experimental concrete pavement still exist
on abandoned sections of the National Road in Ohio. There are
also over 70 miles of the road in Ohio that were paved with
experimental brick. Twenty-two stone bridges still exist along
the National Road in Ohio.
The National Scenic Byway program requires that a Corridor
Management Plan be created. The plan addresses five specific
areas. These include enhancement, development, marketing, interpretation
The Enhancement Plan outlines ways in which the intrinsic qualities
of the National Road will be protected, preserved and conserved
so that the byway remains an attractive destination.
The Development Plan initiates strategies for byway communities
to enhance existing development, accommodate new development
and attract prospective new businesses.
The Marketing Plan includes plans for marketing the National
Road in Ohio and ways to coordinate the marketing of the byway
with other National Road states.
The Interpretive Plan outlines ways to establish educational
activities and facilities that communicate the history of the
National Road in Ohio, and coordinate with other National Road
states to provide a common interpretive approach.
The Sign Plan incorporates strategies for reducing the size
and number of signs along the route and for developing a system
of directional, informational and interpretive signs to enhance
the visitors' experience.
The Ohio National Road Scenic Byway planning process is well
underway. The Ohio Historic Preservation Office (OHPO) initiated
groundwork in 1995 when they initiated a statewide steering
committee of local and state interest groups. A comprehensive
inventory of historic and archaeological resources along the
National Road was then completed. This led to the designation
of National Road as a State Scenic Byway by the Ohio Department
of Transportation. At this point the development of the Corridor
Management Plan was initiated.
A Scenic Byway Advisory Committee comprised of representatives
of city and county government, regional transportation planning
agencies, historical organizations, museums, chambers of commerce
and tourism agencies was formed. This committee will help facilitate
the decision-making process during the development of the Corridor
Management Plan. The advisory group has been meeting on a quarterly
basis since June 2000. The draft management plan was presented
at a series of public meetings held across the state in April
2001. The plan is scheduled for submittal to the Federal Highway
Administration in July with hopes of receiving approval by September
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