Visual Impact Assessment (VIA) for Projects on State Highway System
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 also help protect the scenic quality of the highway corridor by performing VIAs as part of the environmental process for all transportation projects. California Department of Transportation policy requires that VIAs be performed by licensed landscape architects for all internal and external developed projects.
Additional VIA Guidance and Tools
To learn more about Visual Impact Assessments, see:
- Standard Environmental Reference (SER), Environmental Handbook, Volume 1 (Guidance for Compliance), Chapter 27 (Visual and Aesthetics Review)
- Project Development Procedures Manual (PDPM), Chapter 29 (Landscape Architecture), Section 1 (General) and Section 2 (Highway Planting)