To some people, Highway 27 in Central Florida is a nuisance, with new developments dumping more and more cars out onto this formerly rural highway. But to Craig Parrish, a retired car salesman from Lansing, Michigan, US 27 deserves recognition as a National Scenic Byway.
(From from Lansing State Journal, March 11, 2007, "Old US-27 Could Become Historical Highway")
"Over this past year, Parrish, a retired car salesman and classic car enthusiast from Lansing, has been a one-man grass roots campaign, drumming up support from municipalities to designate Old US-27 as a historical highway through the federal Scenic Byways program.
"From Cheboygan, Mich., to Miami, Fla., Parrish, 53, is personally visiting every community along the Old 27 route, soliciting letters of resolution from city councils, township boards, county boards, road commissions, and chambers of commerce.
"Michigan is already on board, with sponsorships from State Rep. Rick Jones, Sen. Michelle McManus and Sen. Tony Stamos. Legislators in Indiana and Ohio have also taken the necessary steps, said Parrish.
"He said he is confident the other four states will fall into place. In November 2006, he visited 17 cities in Kentucky and Tennessee over a three-day period. In May, he plans on traveling to Georgia and Florida. His goal is to see Old 27 become historical by the year 2009.
"Parrish has a vision of the highway serving a role reminiscent of its east-west counterpart, Historical Route 66, which runs from Chicago, Ill., all the way to Santa Monica, Calif. Both were built at roughly the same time period — in the late 20s.
"Parrish said he believes creating Historical Old US-27 will provide a boost to the economy because "nostalgia sells." People come from all over the country to travel Historical Route 66, and Old 27 has the potential to be a similar draw, he said."
Florida already has three National Scenic Byways: the Indian River Lagoon Scenic Highway, the Tamiami Trail Scenic Highway, and the A1A Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway.
These are also recognized by Florida's Scenic Highways Program. The first scenic highway designated by the state was the Pensacola Scenic Bluffs Highway Corridor, in 1998. The most recent is the Big Bend Scenic Byway, designated in January 2007.
The Scenic Highways Program seeks to promote preservation, economic development, and community planning, and works primarily through community support and concensus building.
Some additional examples of designated Florida Scenic Highways are the Old Florida Heritage Highway (Alachua County)and the Courtney Campbell Causeway (Hillsborough and Pinellas counties). Highways under consideration for designation include the Florida Black Bear Scenic Byway (in Marion and Flagler counties, through the Ocala National Forest), the Ormond Beach Scenic Loop, and the Heritage Crossroads: Miles of History, among others.