Some 62 miles of connected roads in Sumter County have won the state’s 24th designation as a Florida Scenic Byway.
“We are really excited about this, as we have been working very hard to get this byway designated these past the years,” said Dawn Cary, a director with the Sumter County Chamber of Commerce.
The byway starts on State Road 50 at the Van Fleet Trail, then proceeds through Webster, then westward to Veterans Memorial Highway as it passes by the Florida National Cemetery, then to the Dade Battlefield State Park in Bushnell. From Bushnell, it heads north to Sumterville, then west to Lake Panasoffkee, and then to State Road 44 and the Withlacoochee River. The exact route can be found on the Scenic Sumter Heritage Byway Facebook page.
The Florida Scenic Highways Program, sponsored by the Florida Department of Transportation, was established to showcase outstanding public roads, and their adjacent communities, as unique and worthy of statewide recognition. The Sumter Byway became the state’s 24th byway to be recognized by the FDOT as being the “Best of the Best,” Cary said.
“Community pride is extremely important because it allows communities to showcase what they treasure the most,” said Buddy Cunill, former Florida Scenic Highways program administrator for the Florida Department of Transportation.
Gavin Jones of the Tamiami Trail Scenic Highway in South Florida said “the designation enables us to go after funds that are available to roadways so designated. The money will be used to build facilities, making it more comfortable for people driving to stop and enjoy the scenic beauty and wildlife beside the roadway, as well as advertise it as an attraction more broadly.”
The chamber, community leaders, local veterans group, several businesses and private citizens, along with Sumter County government, and the cities of Webster and Bushnell, worked together on the project.