Winston County adds Scenic Byway to attractions

From press and staff reports


Winston County and The Winston County Economic Development Partnership are proud to announce the passing of a bill to designate the Noxubee Hills Route as one of Mississippi’s Scenic Byways through the Mississippi Legislature.

WCEDP, at the request of the Winston County Board of Supervisors, took steps to have the process mandated by the MDOT’s Scenic Byways Committee to have the Noxubee Hills Route designated as a Scenic Byway. The route, which runs 43 miles, goes through the counties of Choctaw, Winston, Noxubee, and Oktibbeha. The byway will link the county routes serving the public lands of the Tombigbee National Forest, Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge, and Mississippi State University (MSU).

The National Scenic Byways Program is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration. The program aims at the preservation, protection, and enhancement of the state’s intrinsic resources. Intrinsic resources are features considered significant, exceptional and distinctive by a community and are recognized by that community as worthy of preservation and management.

The program is a grassroots collaborative effort established to help recognize, preserve and enhance selected roads throughout the United States. Since 1992, the National Scenic Byways Program has funded 3,049 projects for state and nationally designated byway routes in 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. The U.S. Secretary of Transportation recognizes certain roads as All-American Roads or National Scenic Byways based on one or more archeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational and scenic qualities which must be approved by the state scenic byways program first.

The county itself has been busy and have some of their road projects completed or near completion. The 3 mile improvement project for Bluff Lake Road, which runs from four lane Hwy 25 to four lane Hwy 45, is completed but awaiting inspection before travel. This road connects to the NHR (Noxubee Hills Route) as well.

Also the 5 mile stretch on Gumbranch-Hwy 25 Road section of the NHR between the paved Sturgis Road and four lane Hwy 25 is completed as well. Funds from the FHWA’s Public Lands Highways Discretionary (PLHD) program assisted with the paving of this road.

With this new Scenic Byway, the WCEDDP and Board of Supervisors are hoping it will attract tourist with the beautiful scenery, all while traveling on paved roads. An increase in tourism would benefit Winston County greatly due to the upcoming addition of the 2 percent hotel tax which passed during the recent General Election.