a meeting of the Outer Banks National Scenic Byway Advisory Committee
on Tuesday, April 5, at the Hatteras Realty office in Avon – the same
office that has hosted dozens if not scores of these meetings over the
past 13 years – the official signs for the highway were unveiled, to
the delight of representatives from a number of the community’s most
beloved landmarks and sites.
meeting was held to help local sites of interest and community
businesses “show the way,” and have the ability to both explain the
national byway designation and share the stories that the Outer Banks
is legendary for.
kind of stories are we telling the visitors that come here?” asked Mary
Helen Goodloe-Murphy, the director of the Advisory Committee and a
leader for the byway project since the very beginning. “Visitors want
to know our stories – that’s why they come to the Outer Banks.”
essence, the National Scenic Byway designation is just a part of the
story. There are also a number of interpretive trails inherently set up
along the route that highlight outdoor recreation, maritime history,
community heritage, and other enviable aspects of Outer Banks living.
also made it clear that the designation itself would lead more people
to the area -- especially in the shoulder seasons -- and that it is an
accomplishment that’s certainly worthy of celebration, and sharing.
one of a 150 scenic byways in the nation, and it’s a number that’s not
going to grow,” she said. “This is a very prestigious designation, and
everyone should be proud to be part of this byway.”
the hard work of the Advisory Committee – as well as countless partners
from across the state – has been relatively behind the scenes up to
this point, this is all about to change.
than 160 signs are about to be installed from the Down East area of
Carteret County to the tip of Bodie Island at Whalebone Junction to
broadcast the designation, as well as point out culturally and
historically significant points of interest, like the Chicamacomico
Life-Saving Station, the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, and,
naturally, the Cape Hatteras and Ocracoke lighthouses.
In addition, a new website was launched for the byway, http://outerbanksbyway.com/,
which provides plenty of information on the project and the area, and a
book is being published on the route by Arcadia Publishing, entitled
“Outer Banks Scenic Byway,” as part of the Images of America series.
The book is by Doug Stover, who is now retired from the National Park
Service but was the cultural resource manager and historian for the
Cape Hatteras National Seashore for many years.
is all in addition to a new Facebook page, evergreen press releases,
eye-catching pamphlets on the different trails within the byway, and an
ongoing effort to make sure people know that the Outer Banks is on the
a safe bet that word is about to get out about the designation in a big
way, but the road to get here - like Highway 12 itself – was certainly
not a short one.
all began in 2003, when a grassroots committee began an effort to
achieve the coveted designation. The stretch of highway from Whalebone
Junction to Carteret County became a North Carolina Scenic Byway first,
and was given the national designation in 2009.
is currently one of only three National Scenic Byways in North Carolina
-- the other two are the Cherohala Skyway and the Forest Heritage
National Scenic Byway -- and is easily one of the most unique byways in
the country. Encompassing 138 driving miles and 25 miles of ferry
travel, the Outer Banks byway stands out for its geography and
combination of roadways and open water.
2011, the graphics and icon for the National Scenic Byway signs and
materials were approved, after massive community outreach and much
consideration. The graphics, essentially, had to tell their own story
of the area, while not singling out a particular region of the more
than 100-mile stretch of coastline.
started talking with the committee in 2011, because we had experience
with byway projects,” said Breanne Bye, the Iowa-based designer who
created the finished project. “We had to think ‘What’s the best way to
let visitors know the byway exists?’ and we started working with the
committee on answering this question.”
end result is sharp and eye-catching, to be sure. Boasting the outline
of a non-descript lighthouse, (appropriate considering there are a
total of four lighthouses along the byway), a sliver of sandy beach, a
patch of open water, and a boat resting on marshy grass, the icon
certainly encapsulates the past and present of the Outer Banks.
been such a pleasure for someone from land-locked Iowa to be on the
Outer Banks,” said Bye, “and we were so pleased to be involved in this
The attendees of the meeting – many of whom had been going to the meeting for years – were also impressed with the final work.
a long time coming,” said John Griffin, president of the Chicamacomico
Lifesaving Station Board of Directors. “I remember when the logo was
decided on, and I thought ‘Now we have a logo to put on signs.’ And
today, we’re looking at the actual signs! It’s very exciting.”
reason for the long wait from the idea’s conception to the final
product is fairly simple. Like any massive project that requires grant
funding, there was a lot of time-lapse in between application and
approval along the way. And with multiple grants, and multiple parties
and government agencies involved, there were many moving parts to both
achieving the designation, and then finding the resources to publicize
the title the way it deserves.Albemarle
& Associates is the engineering firm responsible for the overall
project design and implementation. Funding came from the Federal
Highway Administration through the N.C. Department of Transportation
and is being locally administered by Dare County. The signs were
manufactured by Pannier for the orientation map panels and Korman Signs
for the highway signs.
The next step is going to move fairly quickly. The contractor, Hatchell
Concrete, will start installing the signs in the next couple of weeks,
beginning in the Down East region, and moving north.
130 general “National Scenic Byway” signs will be installed all along
the highway, typically adjacent to the road route signs. Measuring 24
inches-by-42 inches, these signs are designed to assure visitors
traveling along the quiet highway that, yes, they are on the right
addition, approximately 30 directional signs will also be installed,
directing travelers to local points of interest, such as lighthouses,
historic sites, and museums.
“Welcome to the Outer Banks Scenic Byway” signs will also be
established, as well as byway orientation panels at the ferry docks and
other central sites that indicate particular regions that are worth
points of interest on the orientation panels include the obvious to
frequent Outer Banks visitors, such as the Graveyard of the Atlantic
Museum or the Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station, but will also include
some lesser-known gems as well, such as the Little Kinnakeet Lifesaving
Station, Sandy Bay, the Salvo Post Office, and the British Cemetery.
entire installation project is expected to be completed by May, so
locals and visitors alike can look forward to spotting the signs in
abundance within the next few weeks.
while a big chunk of the 13-year National Scenic Byway project appears
to be done, for members who have been there since the beginning,
there’s still plenty to do.
Barris, a committee member who has been involved since the first 2003
meeting at Hatteras Realty, attested that it was a great day made
possible by countless people, but that the committee’s work wasn’t done
just yet. “Now, we need to promote it, and we need to keep it fresh in
people’s minds,” she said at Tuesday’s meeting.
even though the hardworking committee members haven’t slowed down --
even after this giant leap forward -- the Outer Banks National Scenic
Byway has nevertheless reached a huge milestone.
the installation of attention-grabbing signs, a new book, and a newly
established web presence, locals and visitors alike can look forward to
the term “Outer Banks National Scenic Byway” becoming a regular part of
the regional vernacular.
So, if you haven’t heard about our homegrown byway yet, don’t worry.
You definitely will.