Visual & RCAs

Find how to assess and mitigate for visual impacts to the project area and Resource Conservation Areas.

Determine Visual Impact Assessment needs

Use the questions on the ERS-ECS form to find out what level of Visual Impact Assessment (VIA) is recommended for the project.

You will need a VIA if the project has the potential to change the roadside character.  Work that may change the character includes:

Roadway changes

  • Addition of lanes
  • Changes in road alignment
  • Addition of major structures
  • New interchanges
  • Changes to historic buildings or other structures
  • Ferry terminal improvements
  • Increased lighting
  • Removal of screening or large areas of vegetation
  • Addition of noise barriers
  • Substantial grade changes
  • Addition of public transportation facilities

If the project may change the roadside character, identify sensitive areas in the Area of Visual Effect. Sensitive areas include, but are not limited to:

  • State or National Scenic Byways
  • All-American Roads
  • Wild and Scenic Rivers
  • National Scenic Areas
  • Tribal lands
  • US Forest Service or National Park Service lands
  • Parks and recreation areas (Section 4(f) or 6(f) resources)
  • Rural communities that value a view of stars and the night sky if new or brighter lighting is being proposed

Define the Area of Visual Effect

Use Part 4.4 of the FHWA VIA Guidelines for Highway Projects to define the Area of Visual Effect (AVE), or study area, for the VIA.

Identify Resource Conservation Areas

Use our internal GIS Workbench, under "Land Use – Land Cover > Resource Conservation Areas", and our ROW plans to identify Resource Conservation Areas in the project area.

166,800 electric vehicle

registrations in Washington in 2023, up from 114,600 in 2022.

87 wetland compensation sites

actively monitored on 918 acres in 2023.

25,000 safe animal crossings

in the Snoqualmie Pass East Project area since 2014.