Environmental Guidance

NEPA Guidance for Federal Aid Projects

Visual Resources

Visual resource is a collective term that describes the natural landforms, vegetation, water features, and human modifications that give the landscape within a specific area its visual aesthetic quality. A "visual impact" describes the change in visual resources brought about by a project and the public's sensitivity to that change.

FHWA requires that transportation projects consider both positive and negative impacts to visual resources, that they be adequately assessed, and that mitigation measures be implemented to reduce potential adverse effects. More detail about visual impact assessment can be found in FHWA’s Visual Impact Assessment for Highway Projects.

The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 directs all federal agencies to account for the effects of a proposed project on historic resources; this includes, "the introduction of visual ... elements that are out of character with the property or alter its setting." In addition, Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act advocates for the protection of the natural beauty of the countryside, public parks, recreational lands, wildlife and waterfowl refuges, and historic sites.

Public involvement during planning and design is beneficial in identifying potential actions to mitigate adverse visual impacts.

While conducting an assessment of the impacts to visual resources, questions are addressed such as:

  • Will the project result in a noticeable change in the physical and cultural characteristics of the surrounding environment?
  • How sensitive are potential viewers likely to be with visible changes?
  • Is the proposed project consistent with applicable laws, ordinances, regulations, and policies?

Other visual impact assessment methods for evaluating the scenic attributes of landscapes are the Landscape Aesthetics: A Handbook for Scenery Management prepared by the US Forest Service in 1995. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management uses a method called Visual Resources Management. These assessment methods may be referred to for planning purposes or for assessing the impacts of proposed transportation project.

Civil RightsTitle VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), ADOT does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, sex or disability. Persons that require a reasonable accommodation based on language or disability should contact ADOT’s Civil Rights Office at [email protected]. Requests should be made as early as possible to ensure the State has an opportunity to address the accommodation.

De acuerdo con el título VI de la Ley de Derechos Civiles de 1964 y la Ley de Estadounidenses con Discapacidades (ADA por sus siglas en inglés), el Departamento de Transporte de Arizona (ADOT por sus siglas en inglés) no discrimina por raza, color, nacionalidad, edad, género o discapacidad.  Personas que requieren asistencia (dentro de lo razonable) ya sea por el idioma o por discapacidad deben ponerse en contacto con la Oficina de Derechos Civiles en [email protected]. Las solicitudes deben hacerse lo más pronto posible para asegurar que el equipo encargado del proyecto tenga la oportunidad de hacer los arreglos necesarios.