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The picturesque corridor known as the Delaware Bayshore Byways provides no shortage of scenic vistas, including Kent County’s Bombay Hook Wildlife Refuge.

Delaware scenic byways

Photos courtesy of Delaware Byways Program and Laura Pontiggia

UD helps Delaware tourism with GIS mapping technology

Summer is the perfect season for road trips and sightseeing, but did you know that there are more than 100 scenic stops along the Delaware byways system alone? From the rich history found on the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway to the culturally significant sites making up the Nanticoke Heritage Byway, all six of the First State’s byways offer a rich roadmap of scenic spots. Now, thanks to a collaboration between the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) and the University of Delaware’s Institute for Public Administration (IPA), planning a summertime excursion through Delaware is as simple as a click.

Created to identify, promote, preserve and enhance Delaware’s designated byways, DelDOT’s Delaware Byways Program is one many Delawareans may not be aware of. According to DelDOT, a byway can be defined as a transportation route which is adjacent to or travels through an area with particular intrinsic scenic, historic, natural, cultural, recreational or archaeological qualities.

Interested in exploring the Delaware Byways? Navigating scenic views and must-see stops along Delaware roadways has never been easier thanks to the Scenic Tour of Delaware Byways Showcase.

Michael Hahn, who graduated with his master’s degree in 1997 and is DelDOT’s Byways Program coordinator, said his task is to oversee all six of the state’s byways.

“As part of my role, I’m always looking to bring attention to Delaware’s six scenic byways and the unique experiences they each offer,” said Hahn. “Already aware of their Complete Communities Toolbox and story map offerings, I was able to connect with IPA’s Marcia Scott and Nicole Minni to help bring the byways to life for Delawareans through GIS (geographical information system) technology.”

The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway provides travelers with an alternate route through Maryland and Delaware while giving opportunities to experience the history of the Underground Railroad through such landmarks as Wilmington’s Unwavering Courage in the Pursuit of Freedom monument commemorating Harriet Tubman and Thomas Garrett.

Minni is an associate policy scientist and GIS specialist at IPA.

“The goal of the project was to not only create a visual experience, but also to encourage Delawareans to go off the beaten path to explore scenic views and must see-stops along the way,” said Minni. By tapping into GIS technology, Minni was able to replicate the routes of each byway and present them in an accurate and interactive virtual map collection. From there, the project team worked to highlight points of interest along each corridor.

Scott is a policy scientist at IPA.

“After receiving input from state planners, local advocacy organizations, the University of Delaware’s Center for Historic Architecture and Design and Delaware Byways Program leaders, our team developed a spreadsheet with points of interest along the byways, which included a list of historic sites, their locations and descriptions,” Scott said.

Virtual roadmap of Delaware’s byways

After three years of work, DelDOT’s Scenic Tour of the Delaware Byways Showcase was released this year to the public. The collection includes detailed maps of the Brandywine Valley National Scenic Byway, the Red Clay Scenic Byway, Delaware’s Bayshore Byway, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, the Nanticoke Heritage Byway, and the Historic Lewes Byway, Gateway to the Bayshore.

Located within the hills of New Castle County, Delaware’s Chateau Country is a charming site to see along the Brandywine Valley Scenic Byway.

“Rather than reading an entire booklet or handing out some kind of manual, this collection of online interactive maps has proven to be an excellent way for us to share the story of the byways with the public and increase our outreach,” said Hahn. Additionally, Hahn added that the virtual byways maps can be used by the state’s tourism and regional chamber of commerce partners to help promote Delaware’s heritage-, cultural-, eco- and recreation-tourism industries and boost economic vitality of Delaware’s small towns.

Those interested in touring the byways this summer can also play a part in the positive impact of the program by taking advantage of the Byway Bucks Program, which incentivizes travelers to patronize local businesses along each byway. These vouchers are redeemable at a variety of byway – adjacent small businesses for a variety of special offers across the state. For more information on how to get started, the Institute for Public Administration’s “#ShopSmall Along the Delaware Byways” video — found on the Delaware Byways Program’s home page — provides an overview of how to use byway bucks.

Complete Communities Toolbox

A "complete" community promotes healthy lifestyles, economic growth, and sustainability through an integrated approach to transportation, land use, and community design. The Institute for Public Administration's online Delaware Complete Communities Planning Toolbox is a resource for community leaders and local government officials to utilize planning approaches, community-design tools, public engagement strategies, and visual tools. The full collection of IPA's GIS Story Maps may be viewed on the Implementing Complete Communities in Delaware ESRI GIS Story Map Gallery.

Institute for Public Administration

The University of Delaware’s Institute for Public Administration (IPA) addresses the policy, planning, and management needs of its partners through the integration of applied research, professional development and the education of tomorrow's leaders.

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