|Highway 60 Scenic Byway Project|
A 100-mile stretch of Highway 60 in southern Wisconsin could become the first state scenic byway, a designation supporters think will boost tourism.
The stretch runs from just east of Lodi to Prairie du Chien and takes travelers past sprawling agricultural land, over rolling hills and through picturesque downtowns. Much of the road hugs the Wisconsin River.
"You can't have a bad view along that stretch of road," said Mark Cupp, executive director of the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board, which initiated the effort.
The designation likely would result in enhanced amenities, possibly including bike trails, visitor centers and scenic overlooks, Cupp said.
The recently created state scenic byways program is a spinoff of a popular national program run by the Federal Highway Administration. The national program recognizes culturally significant roadways such as Wisconsin's Great River Road, which flanks 250 miles of the Mississippi River on the state's west border.
The state program allows communities to develop the same concept of preservation and promotion. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation must approve applications.
Already, the DOT's scenic byways advisory committee has approved the Highway 60 designation. The next step is a meeting March 5 in Muscoda to develop a plan to manage the corridor. Components of the plan will include environmental protection techniques and goals for marketing the route.
The DOT secretary will make the final determination on the application. While efforts are under way elsewhere in the state to apply for the designation, Cupp thinks the Highway 60 proposal is the furthest along.
The vast majority of local governmental units along the route have signed on as supporters, including lead sponsor Richland County.
Ann Greenheck, county chairwoman, said she especially likes that the designation would prohibit, with few exceptions, any new outdoor advertising along the corridor.
The designation wouldn't cost local governments anything, Cupp said. However, they could apply for grants to enhance or add amenities, with federal and state money paying 80 percent of such costs.
Chris Noble, owner of The Port, a restaurant and convenience store on Highway 60 just north of Blue River, said the designation could give the area much-needed exposure.
"I think this route is kind of an unknown little treasure," he said. "People don't realize how scenic it is."\ \ PLANNING MEETING
The Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board will host a meeting March 5 to develop a corridor management plan for a 100-mile stretch of Highway 60 between Lodi and Prairie du Chien.
The meeting will be from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Kratochwill Memorial Building, 206 N. Wisconsin Ave., Muscoda. The morning session will be devoted to technical aspects of the plan and the afternoon session to a visioning process.
Anyone with an interest in economic development and tourism in south-central and southwestern Wisconsin is invited to attend. To ensure enough seating, organizers would like people to call ahead to the riverway board at 800-221-3792 if they are planning to attend.