What does “Landscape and Aesthetics” mean?
Landscape and Aesthetics refers to the total
visual impression of the highway, including:
- Landscaping and art – which responds
to the context of the surrounding communities and landscapes
– incorporated into the right of way;
- Well proportioned, visually pleasing bridges,
slopes and drainage swales;
- Views of the highway from adjacent neighborhoods;
- Carefully preserved scenic vistas viewed
by motorists traveling through Nevada
Attention to landscape and aethetics results
in built highways that contribute to Nevada’s tourist-based
economy and its citizen’s quality of life.
What does the NDOT Landscape and Aesthetics program include?
The NDOT Landscape and Aesthetics program
includes the policies, processes, documents, staff and partnerships
that guide planning, design, construction, and maintenance of State
Is the concept of considering landscape and aesthetics in roadway
In the middle of the 19th century the concept
of parkway design began to emerge through the influence of Fredrick
Law Olmsted. His influence and concepts in park design carried
over to the notion of roadways serving as linear parks that connected
open spaces in urban areas. Hallmark projects, which have defined
significant design principles and illustrate the incorporation
of aesthetics with highway engineering include: the Merritt Parkway;
the Blue Ridge Parkway,; Natchez Trace Parkway; Sequoia-Kings
Canyon Highway; and I-170 Vail Pas and I-70 through Glenwood Canyon.
In addition, many state have taken up the challenge of designing
highway systems which respond to the communities and landscapes
through which they pass, including; Arizona, Minnesota, New Jersey,
(Additional information on the history
of highway aesthetics and highway design in the United State can
be found in Chapter Two of the I-15, I-80 Urban, and I-80 Rural
Technical Information Report – Volume One: Inventory of
What is the vision for the Nevada State Highway System?
- A system of State highways that reflect
the land and people of Nevada
- Aesthetically pleasing, safe, cost effective
- Landscape and aesthetics considered and
addressed on all State highways
What are the benefits of this vision and the current project?
The benefits of the vision for the Nevada
State Highway System are many. They include:
- Enhancement of local and regional character
through preservation of and emphasis on cultural and natural
features, scenic views and community identity;
- Improvement in the visual quality of Nevada’s
highways and thus the driving experience, resulting in a positive
influence on Nevada’s tourist-based economy.
- Improvements in safety and wayfinding
- Provision of a predictable, yet engaging,
- Enhancement of environmental health by appropriately
accounting for wildlife, erosion and runoff, and native plant
Is the concept of considering landscape and aesthetics new in
The idea of considering landscape and aesthetics
in highway design is not new in Nevada. NDOT officially introduced
the concept in its 1968 Aesthetics Manual. Although landscape and
aesthetics have been factored into highway design in the past, Nevada
is entering the twenty-first century with a renewed commitment to
landscape and aesthetics as integral elements of the State’s
The Landscape and Aesthetics Master Plan, developed
in 2002, set the course of action for considering landscape and
aesthetics throughout the life of every NDOT-managed highway.
In response to the process outlined in the master plan, the corridor
planning process addresses the next step in completing the vision
for the State’s highways.
What is the process for including landscape and aesthetics in
Step 1 – Master Planning. Set
statewide policy and establishes the guidelines and process for
incorporating landscape and aesthetics into highway design. The
Nevada Department of Transportation adopted a Landscape &
Aesthetics Master Plan in 2002.
Step 2 – Corridor Planning. Provides
a management tool for determining levels of landscape and aesthetics
treatments and develops priorities and budgets for incorporation
into the State highway system. The corridor planning process is
currently underway for nine (9) of Nevada’s eleven (11)
Step 3 – Project Design. Site
Step 4 – Construction, Operations
and Maintenance. Project installation that responds the design
intent outlined in the corridor plan.
Why do Corridor Planning?
Corridor planning allows NDOT, local governments
and the public to:
- Examine major design themes, levels of treatment,
cost goals, and priorities for landscape and aesthetic treatments
within the corridor;
- Initiate intergovernmental cooperative planning
for landscape and aesthetic improvements;
- Promote community involvement in the decision-making
- Save money by identifying long-range needs
and anticipating problems before solutions become too expensive;
- Prioritize landscape and aesthetic projects
for further development, design and construction.
Who does corridor planning?
NDOT staff manages the planning process. They
may hire consultants to assist with preparing the plans or they
may prepare the plans in-house. A team of professional landscape
architects and engineers are currently working as consultants
to NDOT, with assistance from UNLV, to prepare corridor plans
for nine (9) of the eleven (11) corridors. This team includes
Design Workshop, Sand County Studios, JW Zunino, Places, and CH2MHill.
After a corridor plan is developed and endorsed
by local governments and NDOT, the plan becomes the guide for
landscape and aesthetics on individual project designs within
the corridor. That is, NDOT staff refers to the corridor plan
to ensure that project designs conform to the design themes, cost
range, material guidelines, and overall aesthetic intent for the
(Additional information about corridor
planning can be found in the Landscape and Aesthetic Technical
Report that was prepared in conjunction with the Landscape and
Aesthetics Master Plan. A copy of the Technical Report can be
obtained by contacting NDOT.)
What does an NDOT corridor planning team do?
The planning team conducts scoping meetings
with public officials, permitting agencies, and stakeholders, and
forms a citizen’s advisory committee to provide input during
the planning process. The team refines corridor boundaries and identifies
major issues that need to be addressed. They describe the existing
and likely future conditions along the corridor, such as the population,
terrain, vegetation, highway conditions, adjacent land uses, and
nearby tourist or recreation destinations.
The team defines the major design themes for
the corridor based on local landforms, history, cultural influences,
and industry. It develops written guidelines for materials to
be used, such as preferred color schemes, rock types and plants.
The advisory committee and the public provide
input on preferred levels of treatment (high, medium or low) for
major features in the corridor, from which the team can estimate
a range of costs. A target cost range for all landscape and aesthetic
treatments within the corridor is then established for use in
long-range planning. Finally, the planning team obtains local
endorsement of the corridor plan and initiates local agreements
for construction and maintenance funding.
Ultimately, NDOT endorses each corridor plan
as the basis for future landscape and aesthetic design, construction
and maintenance on State highways.
Corridor plans should be revisited every 5 to
10 years and adjusted to reflect the changes within the corridor.
Although the corridor plan provided guidance for project design,
there is still opportunity for more public input into specific
details when individual projects are designed and built.
What are highway corridors?
A highway corridor is a length of highway
right-of-way and its associated secondary roads.
The length of a corridor is based on the character
of its landscape: whether it is urban or rural; the type of land
forms and plant communities; and cultural or historical regions.
In general, corridors begin and end at the state border or at
one of our larger cities.
Major highways on which the corridors are based
include: Interstate-15, Interstate-80, US-395, US-95, US-50, and
Where are the corridors?
A. US-95 from the State border near Laughlin
to Henderson, including US-93 through Boulder City to Hoover Dam.
B. I-15 from the California border at Primm
to the Arizona border at Mesquite, including US-95 from Henderson
north to the junction with SR-157 at Lee Canyon.
C. US-95 from the junction with SR-157 to Tonopah.
D. US-95 from Tonopah through Fallon to I-80,
and including US-6 from Tonopah to the California border.
E. US-6 from Tonopah to Ely.
F. US-93 from the junction with I-15 at Apex
G. All of US-395 from the state line at Topaz
Lake through Carson City and Reno to the state line north of Reno.
H. I-80 from the California border through
Reno and Sparks to Fernley.
I. US-50 from the western state line through
Fallon, Eureka, and Ely to the eastern state line.
J. US-93 from Ely through Wells to the Idaho
border at Jackpot.
K. I-80 from Fernley through Lovelock, Winnemucca,
Battle Mountain, Carlin, Elko, and Wells to West Wendover at the
Utah border, and including US-95 from Winnemucca to McDermitt.
The corridor descriptions follow the NDOT standard
practice of describing highways from south to north and from west
During the scoping phase of each corridor plan,
the NDOT planning team determines exactly which secondary roads
will be included in the plan.
What corridors are included in the current Landscape & Aesthetics
In January 2004, NDOT began development of
landscape and aesthetics corridor plans for the following three
high priority corridors:
- Interstate 15 Corridor (Corridor B in the
Master Plan): I-15 from the California border at Primm to the
Arizona border at Mesquite, including US-95 from Henderson north
to the junction with SR 157 at Lee Canyon.
- Interstate 80 Urban Corridor (Corridor H
in the Master Plan): I-80 from the California border through
Reno and Sparks to Fernley, including portions of US-395 at
the interchange with I-80.
- Interstate 80 Rural Corridor (Corridor K
in the Master Plan): I-80 from Fernley to the Utah border, including
US-95 from Winnemucca to the Oregon border.
Corridor plans for the above roadways are undergoing
final review and endorsement from NDOT. In May 2005 NDOT began
development of corridor plans for the western highways; three
corridor plans will be developed:
- Southern US-95 / US-93 Corridor (Corridors A and C in the
Master Plan): US-95 from the California state line near Searchlight
to Henderson and from Kyle Canyon to the Clark County line near
Indian Springs, including US-93 to Hoover Dam.
- Central US-95 / US-6 / US-50 Corridor (Corridors C, D, E and
I in the Master Plan): US-95 from the Clark County line to I-80,
US-6 from the California state line to Warm Springs, US-50 from
Silver Springs to New Pass Summit, Alt US-95 and Alt US-50.
- Northern US-395 / US-50 Corridor (Corridors G and I in the
Master Plan): US-395 from the California state line near Topay
Lake to the California state line north of Reno and US-50 from
the California state line at Stateline to New Pass Summit.
What is the Technical Review Committee (TRC)?
A Technical Review Committee (TRC) will be
formed for each corridor, and will be composed of representatives
from various public agencies, business groups, environmental groups,
and other affected and/or interested stakeholders. The TRCs will
serve as a working group to provide input and feedback on the corridor
studies’ process and to review major deliverables. The committees
will also serve as a conduit for the local communities to stay informed
about the progress of the studies. The TRCs will serve in an advisory
or recommending role.
At what stage in the process will Technical Review Committee
(TRC) meetings occur?
Five TRC meetings for each corridor will
be conducted over the course of each 12-month project, at the milestones
listed below. These milestones reflect points of significant progress
during the corridor planning process. The corridor planning team
will be able to gain suggestions and comments on the deliverables
provided at each of the following meetings.
- Kickoff/Chartering Meeting
- Opportunities and Constraints
- Synthesize Design
- Preliminary Corridor Study
- Final Corridor Study/Celebration
*Two of the TRC meetings will be held in conjunction
with public meetings.
When will the public have an opportunity to comment?
Two public information meetings will be held
in each of the corridors with an open house format and an opportunity
for public comment. The meetings are intended to serve two goals:
1) brief members of the public, and 2) provide an opportunity
for comments on the study process and deliverables. The first
public meeting, scheduled to follow the opportunities and constraints
task, will consist of display stations and handouts containing
corridor information, collected data, description of the study
process, and other educational information about landscaping concepts
and feasibility. The corridor planning team will gather feedback
and suggestions from the public for incorporation into the analysis
information presented to the TRC. The second public meeting, scheduled
to follow the design synthesis task and third TRC meeting, will
present the design themes, guidelines, levels of treatment, and
estimated costs for public reaction and comment.
Key NDOT staff and landscape architects will
be present to discuss the project and provide an opportunity for
one-on-one discussion with members of the public. Comment sheets
and flip chart pads will be used to note public comments. The
public can also provide comments via email on the web site for
up to two weeks following the Public Meetings.