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 he 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.

Slow down on ice and snow.

It's easier to skid or lose control traveling at higher speeds. Give yourself more time to stop.

Carry chains, practice installing them.

Winter conditions could mean chains are required on your route. Practice putting them on your vehicle ahead of time.

Pack your winter car kit.

Carry extra supplies like warm clothing, ice scraper and brush, jumper cables and other emergency items.