Highways receive National Scenic Byways designation

Posted: Monday, October 26, 2009

JUNEAU - Two Alaska highways received national recognition after being named National Scenic Byways this month.

The 152-mile-long Haines Highway connects the Southeast Alaska town of Haines - and through extension by way of ferry, the rest of the region's communities - to the rest of the state and the Yukon Territory.

It was given the national designation along with the George Parks Highway between the Anchorage area and Fairbanks.

The Haines Highway runs through the Chilkat River and the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve with its prime eagle roosting habitat and feeding grounds.

The highway was built by the U.S. Army in 1943 as an alternate route from the Pacific Ocean to the Alaska Highway, in case the White Pass and Yukon Route railway from Skagway became blocked.

Miners used the highway in the late 1880s as a trail to reach the Klondike gold fields.

The Parks Highway spans 323 miles from the Glenn Highway in the Matanuska Valley to Fairbanks in the interior north and provides access to the Denali National Park and Preserve.

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities will receive more than $1 million in grant funding to support two Parks Highway projects: a Parks Highway Master Interpretive Plan and the South Denali Visitor Contact Station.

No grant funding for the Haines Highway was announced.

The National Scenic Byways program was created by Congress in 1991. Under the program, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation recognizes certain roads as National Scenic Byways or All-American Roads for their outstanding qualities.

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