- Awards and Recognition
- Annual Reports
- Barrier Aesthetics
- Blue Star Memorial Highways
- Classified Landscaped Freeways
- Community Identification
- Context Sensitive Solutions
- Erosion Control Toolbox
- Gateway Monuments
- Highway Planting
- Mission Bells
- Nonstandard Specification Info
- Policy, Manuals and Procedures
- Roadside Toolbox
- Safety Roadside Rest Area System
- Scenic Highways
- Standard Specifications and Plans
- Transportation Art
- Visual Impact Assessment Outlines
- Visual Impact Assessment Training
- Water Conservation
Directions For Using Visual Impact Assessment (VIA) Annotated Outlines
The VIA Annotated Outlines are designed to be instructional and self-guiding; however users will benefit from reading these directions. Using VIA Annotated Outlines will help to ensure that Caltrans complies with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements for determining potential visual impacts on transportation projects. The VIA Annotated Outlines are required for use on all projects and will assist Caltrans, its partners and stakeholders to ensure that visual analyses are thorough, concise, objective, defensible, and consistent with statewide practices. The annotated outlines are based on the FHWA Visual Impact Assessment for Highway Projects guidance and methodology, and are designed to support and clearly communicate the key findings of the visual analysis. When projects have low potential for visual impacts it’s recommended that a brief memorandum to the project file be developed by the Landscape Architect in lieu of using a VIA Annotated Outline.
It’s recommended that Caltrans' Landscape Architects and external partners review Caltrans VIA Training Modules prior to preparing any VIA.
Caltrans VIA Training Modules are available on the Landscape Architecture Program home page at:
Three VIA Annotated Outlines have been developed to accommodate different levels of project complexity, controversy, and potential impacts: Minor, Moderate, and Advanced/Complex. Modifications to the outlines may be made if changes are needed to address unique project characteristics. Modifications include making non-standard edits or providing additional information, but omitting steps in the FHWA methodology is not allowed. It’s anticipated that a high level of customization of the Advanced/Complex outline could be necessary to accommodate these types of projects.
Each annotated outline contains three types of text: black text, blue text, and red text. Black text is boilerplate and should be used in the document, but may be edited if necessary for the project. Blue text consists of instructions, guidance, or sample text that should be replaced with project specific information, or deleted from the final document as appropriate. Red text indicates the option to select the correct word or phrase for completing a sentence.
Choosing the appropriate VIA level for a particular project is important for efficiency and defensibility, and this determination is made during the VIA scoping process. Caltrans uses a questionnaire to help determine the appropriate level of analysis for a VIA. For projects done by others within the state right-of-way, the District Landscape Architect should be consulted when scoping the VIA level and provide concurrence on the level of analysis used.
The Questionnaire to Determine VIA Level is available online at:
After completing the Questionnaire and determining the VIA level to be used for a project, the end of the Questionnaire provides links to download the appropriate VIA Annotated Outline.