Heritage Route US-23 is closer to becoming part of the state's Pure Michigan advertising campaign after House Bill 5072 was approved Thursday in Lansing, officials said.
The vote was 180-105 in favor of the legislation.
State Rep. Peter Pettalia, chair of the House Tourism Committee, sponsored the bill, which will allow the state to comply with federal changes, which require the word "route" be changed to "byway." Then the roads will be eligible to be part of the highly successful Pure Michigan campaign, officials said in a press release.
Thus, Michigan Heritage Route US-23 eventually could become known as Pure Michigan Byway US-23, with special signs marking the way.
The bill next goes to the Senate for consideration, said Matt Blakely, Pettalia's legislative director.
Michigan has three other historic routes, four scenic routes and five recreational routes, which also will be added to the campaign if the bill is approved, officials said. Two other routes are in the proposal stage.
Pettalia, R-Presque Isle, and other legislators introduced the legislation Oct. 10, 2013.
"These roads have been highlighted and recognized since 1993 for their uniqueness in the state, so what can be more 'Pure Michigan' than that," Pettalia said in Thursday's release. "By including these statewide attractions in the advertising campaign, we can bring worldwide attention to sharing our rich heritage of local highways and roadsides, which will help improve the economy and quality of life for residents and communities along the way."
The bill requires the state highway department to install the new signage within one year of the bill taking effect. The three National Scenic Byway/All American Road designations in Michigan would not be affected.
"The whole point of a scenic route is to get people to drive it, and we have a bunch of great towns along those routes," Blakely said. The hope is that motorists will stop and shop, supporting local businesses.
Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Betsy on Twitter @bl_alpenanews.