Inside Seven
Current Issue: September 2014
Employee Spotlight
Landscape Associates -- back row, left to right:  Joe Millman, James Wu, Gene Kimmel, Joe Beck (student assistant), Keith Sellers, Rich Kester and Donny Thai.  
Front row: Yi Su, Dahlia Persoff, Patty Watanabe (Senior Landscape Architect), Lee Do and Kathleen Ledesma.

by  Jeanne Bonfilio
Issue Date: 08/2007

Dahlia Persoff and her colleagues in Lanscape Architecture make a great team when it comes to "going green."

"Going green" is all in a day's work for Caltrans Landscape Associate Dahlia Persoff and her dedicated co-workers.  A 1996 graduate from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a Bachelor of Science degree in Landscape Architecture, Persoff says that she and other Caltrans landscape architectural professionals are always trying to find better ways to enhance the highway experience and protect the natural resources on the 42 freeways and state highways in Caltrans District 7.

A Caltrans employee since 2000, Persoff has used her expertise in Landscape Architecture in many interesting ways.  In addition to important landscaping projects along state routes, she says that Landscape Associates and Architects also review the work of consultants as well as local-agency  projects that affect the California highway system.  Examples include beautification of on- and off-ramps and other aesthetically pleasing improvement projects. "Many communities want to beautify the off- ramps leading into their cities to show civic pride," she said.  "Whether it is the name of the city or their logo, Caltrans provides the guidelines to initiate potential projects."  A Caltrans pilot "gateway monument" program is also currently under study. 
Another interesting aspect to the Landscape Architecture program is the Transportation Art Program.  This program helps an artist or group who would like to install a piece of art, sculpture, mural or other art project in a safe and appropriate location on Caltrans property.  "Our staff provides the guidelines and requirements for installation and maintenance," she said.  One example is a sculpture located just east of the Hollywood Freeway (SR-170) at Sherman Way.  "It is a colorful, fanciful, abstract sculpture" Persoff said," in a large, landscaped area.  ‚ÄúThat is just one great example of how the Caltrans Transportation Art program helps to beautify California."

What's more, Persoff says that she and her colleagues are also involved in many other aspects of improvement projects.  "Caltrans is always looking for better and more efficient ways to prevent erosion and stormwater runoff," Persoff added.   We are always researching and promoting better ways to utilize landscape-based solutions to stormwater and erosion control.

Safety is also a big part of the Caltrans landscape professionals' work methods.  Some of the landscape 'design for safety' projects includes reducing the amount of repetitive landscape maintenance which means less exposure of Caltrans workers to fast-moving traffic; or creating maintenance vehicle pullout areas to keep workers away from the travelled way; and removing overgrown or high-maintenance plantings and replacing them with low-maintenance plantings.  Crews also pave narrow areas often adjacent to walls or soundwalls to prevent weed growth and the need for additional landscape maintenance.

Whether it is landscaping, art programs, safety or beautification projects, landscape architects and associates are always searching for better ways of "going green" for Caltrans.