Meeting set on plan for scenic byways

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BETHEL – There will be a scenic byways informational meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 10, in the Trustees Auditorium in the McLaughlin Science Center at Gould Academy.

Information will focus on an eligibility application that’s under way seeking scenic byway designation for Route 113 from Standish to Gilead and for Route 2 from Gilead to Bethel.

The Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments, in partnership with the Western Maine Cultural Alliance and the Southern Maine Regional Planning Commission, received a grant from the Maine Department of Transportation to prepare the eligibility application.

The National Scenic Byways Program is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration. The program is a grass-roots collaborative effort established to help recognize and promote corridors determined to be of special distinction.

There are many potential benefits, especially to a rural community, from the national byways program including community recognition and economic development through cultural tourism. If national designation is achieved, grant funds become available for corridor improvements.

Tourists rate byways at the top of attractions. In 2005, Maine Tourism received almost 16,000 requests for information about Maine’s designated byways; the second most common request after sightseeing.

Byways can be a delivery system for cultural tourism. Cultural tourists take an active interest in the history, indigenous culture and creative activity of an area. They support performance groups, the preservation of historic structures, the work of downtown revitalization and exhibits of local artists and artisans. They tend to stay longer and spend more than conventional tourists and are critical to the successful development of a region’s creative economy.

For more information about the project, visit: http://www.smrpc.org/transportation/corridor/corridor.htm#113

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