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Scenic byway gets national recognition

Published: Mar. 9, 2021 at 10:31 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Nebraska’s Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway, or Highway 2, now has a new name. It’s the Sandhills Journey “National” Scenic Byway.

As you can imagine, the volunteers involved with welcoming visitors along the route are thrilled with this big news. We caught up with byway President Terry Licking recently at the visitors center in Broken Bow. “This was the second time around, but we finally got it,” Licking said. “We can now add the word ‘national’ to our byway logo. On February 16th, we finally got designated. Now there are 48 states that have some sort of designation, and there is a total of 184 roads that are designated as national scenic byways.”

Licking says this new designation is going to have a big, positive impact on the rural communities along the route. “Tourism is the state’s 3rd largest industry,” Licking said. “But out here on our byway, west of Grand Island, tourism is the 2nd largest industry. These rural areas that have motels, restaurants and other attractions rely on visitors to patronize them. We are tickled to get this national designation, and it will be a boost to the economy along the way.”

The Sandhills Journey National Scenic Byway starts in Grand Island and it runs 272 miles to Alliance. “We are probably one of the most diversified byways in the state,” Licking said. “In Grand Island you start with the soybeans and corn, then you move into the Sandhills, which is the best beef country in the world. Then you leave the Sandhills and you get toward the panhandle, and you are back into the farm ground with wheat and sugar beets. There are only three stoplights on our byway once you leave Grand Island and all of them are in Broken Bow. So, it’s a straight shot. You come here for the rails, the river and the road. And you will get rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation in return.”

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