Visual Impact Assessment (VIA) for Projects on State Highway System

Landscape architects minimize visual impacts to California’s cultural and scenic resources. This cultural landscape is on Route 1 in Sonoma County.

As seen in the above photo, landscape architects minimize visual impacts to California's cultural and scenic resources. This featured cultural landscape is located on Route 1 in Sonoma County.


A Visual Impact Assessments (VIA) is a technical study required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to assess potential impacts to the visual environment that can accompany highway improvements.

VIAs document the existing visual quality of the surrounding environment, include photo simulations and other visualization exhibits that illustrate the proposed project alternatives, evaluate the expected visual change caused by a project, assess public reaction to the expected change, identify visual impacts, and recommend measures to avoid, minimize or mitigate adverse visual impacts.

Caltrans landscape architects provide design expertise to protect and preserve California's scenic, aesthetic, and environmental resources. They alsohelp protect the scenic quality of the highway corridor by performing VIAs as part of the environmental process for all transportation projects. California Department of Transportationpolicy requires that VIAs be performed by licensed landscape architects for all internal and external developed projects.

VIA Preparation Questionnaire Tool

Use the VIA Questionnaire and subsequent score as a guide to help determine a thorough, concise and defensible level of VIA documentation.

Additional VIA Guidance and Tools

To learn more about Visual Impact Assessments, see: