Congressman Oberstar led Byway Initiative
News From the National Scenic Byway Foundation
In a surprise upset, Minnesota Congressman James Oberstar lost his bid for reelection to his nineteenth term in the House of Representative. Oberstar was a leader in reforming national transportation policy that was enacted as the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 and established the National Scenic Byways Program. As Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Oberstar championed the program and drafted the Surface Transportation Authorization Act of 2009, a transportation policy blueprint that continues the byways program and is yet awaiting action by Congress.
Derrick Crandall, President of the American Recreation Coalition and a long time byway program advocate noted, “I’m very, very surprised. I had seen some polling data two weeks ago that showed the race within ten points, but it seemed that Jim had responded in time with a boost in advertising and travel. Jim Oberstar will be sorely missed in the Congress. Not only did he participate as a key player in the ISTEA process in 1988-1991 that led to the creation of the byways and recreational trails program but he has been a stalwart champion in the evolution and expansion of the programs ever since. And on top of that, my personal relationship with Jim Oberstar goes back to the mid 1970′s, when he was still the staff director of the then-Public Works Committee. More than thirty five years of sharing passions and ideas have left me, and many of us, with great memories of time with Jim.
We all knew that Jim would not always be the godfather of the byways program in the Congress forever. We have transitioned from champ to champ in the Administration — admittedly with varying levels of success. It is time to get to work on lining up new champions for a new chapter in the byways story.”