Gov Okays Route 20 Byway

James L. Seward

September 06, 2005

State Route 20 is now an official state scenic byway following the governor's approval of special state legislation , Senator James L. Seward said today.

Senate bill 5262, sponsored by Senator Seward and two senate colleagues, adds the 123 mile portion of Route 20 between Interstates 88 and 81 and Otsego County Route 54 to the New York State Scenic Byways System. The newly designed New York State Route 20 Byway covers Route 20 as it winds through Schenectady, Schoharie, Otsego, Herkimer, Oneida, Madison, and Onondaga Counties.

"Route 20 is full of history and was a significant east-west travel corridor for years," Senator Seward said. "In fact, it is considered the only pre-interstate highway segment in New York. The designation of Route 20 as a scenic byway offers benefits to communities in the corridor including increased economic benefits through promotion of tourism, improved traveler and community services and broadened appreciation of the state's historic and natural resources."

The legislature established the scenic byways program in 1992 to create a statewide system of scenic byways and to coordinate the activities of state agencies, local governments and not-for-profit organizations into one comprehensive program. The scenic byways advisory board has adopted rigorous criteria to ensure that communities seeking scenic byways designation for a highway are committed to the scenic, historic, natural, recreational, cultural and archaeological resources associated with the proposed byways.

In 1999, the Preservation League of New York State designated Route 20 as one of the "Seven to Save" sites, a listing of the state's most valued but endangered historic places. A local
Route 20 Byway Strategy Committee, through a series of public meetings, defined a vision for the scenic byway corridor that provides for the conservation and enhancement of the underlying resources, while fostering the promotion of tourism and economic development.

The committee will encourage preservation, visitor accommodations and intermodal access; coordinate interpretation, promotion and signage and by emphasize the important historic transportation role of the corridor in the development of New York State.

The bill was sponsored in the assembly by Assemblyman Bill Magee (D-Nelson).