A primary function of Landscape Architecture is to provide design expertise to protect and preserve California’s scenic, aesthetic, and environmental resources. Landscape architects help protect the scenic quality of the highway corridor by performing Visual Impact Assessments (VIAs) as part of the environmental process for all transportation projects. Departmental policy requires that VIAs be performed by licensed landscape architects whether for internally or externally developed projects.
The VIA is a technical study required by NEPA and 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.