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Landscape Development and Management Practices for Urban Freeway Roadsides (2019)

Chapter: Chapter 3 - State of the Practice

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - State of the Practice." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Landscape Development and Management Practices for Urban Freeway Roadsides. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25508.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - State of the Practice." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Landscape Development and Management Practices for Urban Freeway Roadsides. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25508.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - State of the Practice." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Landscape Development and Management Practices for Urban Freeway Roadsides. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25508.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - State of the Practice." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Landscape Development and Management Practices for Urban Freeway Roadsides. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25508.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - State of the Practice." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Landscape Development and Management Practices for Urban Freeway Roadsides. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25508.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - State of the Practice." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Landscape Development and Management Practices for Urban Freeway Roadsides. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25508.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - State of the Practice." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Landscape Development and Management Practices for Urban Freeway Roadsides. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25508.
×
Page 28
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - State of the Practice." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Landscape Development and Management Practices for Urban Freeway Roadsides. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25508.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - State of the Practice." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Landscape Development and Management Practices for Urban Freeway Roadsides. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25508.
×
Page 30

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22 The review of state DOT roadside development and management programs, policies, and protocols for high visibility urban freeways with limited pedestrian access, such as wider medians, interchanges, and overpasses, was conducted through a summary of survey responses and the review of state DOT literature, such as published manuals, guidelines, and documentation avail- able on state DOT websites. The survey was distributed to state DOTs to ascertain whether their respective DOTs have formal documents that specifically pertain to landscape develop- ment and management of the UFR. The survey questions were designed to determine if state DOTs have documentation for their UFR practices that includes landscape development, land- scape maintenance, IVM plans, protocols for illegal or unauthorized use of the ROW, work zone safety for maintenance workers, cooperative agreements, personnel training requirements, and research and performance measurement for the UFR. Appendix A contains the survey question- naire, Appendix B lists the survey respondents, and Appendix C contains the survey responses in detail. Survey Results Thirty-three states responded to the survey, for a response rate of 66%. Of these 33 states, 12 responses stated their DOTs have published policies, practices, programs, or protocols that specifically apply to, refer to, or directly pertain to urban freeways, particularly limited access freeways for at least one survey category. California and Washington indicated they have policies, practices, or protocols for the UFR for every survey question. Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, South Carolina, and Texas are the states that indicated they have UFR documents for more than one survey question. The majority of state DOT documents specifying the urban condition do so in the context of urban arterials, collectors, complete streets, and streetscapes that do not involve the UFR or do not specify the difference. Other documents reference limited access freeways, expressways, and parkways in their design documents, but do not specifically state whether these roadways are rural, suburban, or urban. Text in the documents confirms specifics for the UFR environment. For example, Chapter 900, Landscape Architecture, of the Caltrans Highway Design Manual has a section titled General Guidance for Freeways and Expressways (California Department of Transportation 2018). This section describes those elements associated with the UFR but does not specifically state that the design guidance contained within is specific for the urban area. However, the Nebraska DOT’s Plan for the Roadside Environment clearly defines its UFR as a metropolitan corridor that includes “multilane divided roadways with full control of access and four or more traffic lanes designed to freeway standards and located within metropolitan areas. These corridors have closely spaced interchanges and ramps, occasional vehicular and/or pedestrian overpass/underpass structures, and possibly noise or retaining walls. Development C H A P T E R 3 State of the Practice

State of the Practice 23 adjacent to the right-of-way will range from dense buildings and streets to office and industrial development to residential backyards” (Nebraska Department of Transportation 2018). Landscape Development Landscape development in the context of this synthesis includes revegetation, landscape plantings, erosion control, green infrastructure, slope restoration, wildflowers, hardscape, and other aesthetic treatments. Table 2 indicates that for UFR landscape development, 17 of 33 states (52%) have a statewide plan. Seven states have guidance for both statewide and urban locations. The remaining 13 survey respondents stated their state DOTs do not have guidance documents pertaining to landscape development. South Carolina is currently drafting new policies. Thirteen states—Alaska, Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin—responded they did not have guidance documents for landscape development. However, further review of those state DOT websites found either statewide or urban specific landscape development documents for Minnesota, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. Fig- ure 15 shows the survey responses and states with publicly available documents found through state DOT websites. Landscape Maintenance Landscape maintenance within the UFR is challenging and can include activities such as mowing, tree trimming, plant replacement, irrigation, erosion control, herbicide treatments, Survey Choices State Responses Statewide AL, AZ, CA, CO, KY, LA, MD, MI, MO, NC, OH, OR, PA, SC, VT, WA, WY Specific to urban districts AZ, CA, ID, LA, NV, NC, SC, TX, WA Do not have AK, CT, IA, KS, MN, MT, NH, ND, RI, TN, UT, WI, WV Table 2. Survey responses for landscape development. Urban Statewide Both None Found NA Figure 15. States with UFR landscape development documents.

24 Landscape Development and Management Practices for Urban Freeway Roadsides structure and sign repair, graffiti removal, and litter removal. Maintenance personnel perform many of these activities in constrained spaces adjacent to traffic lanes. Potential disruptors can create problems for these maintenance activities. Table 3 shows that 24 of the 33 respon- dents (73%) state they have statewide landscape maintenance documents. Five states—Arizona, California, South Carolina, Texas, and Washington—indicated they have plans for both state- wide and the UFR. South Carolina stated it is currently revising its specifications. Alaska, Kansas, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, and West Virginia stated they did not have documents for roadside landscape maintenance. Further review of state DOT websites found UFR landscape maintenance documents for Wisconsin. Figure 16 shows the survey responses and states with publicly available documents found through state DOT websites. Integrated Vegetation Management Plans Roadside IVM plans incorporate vegetation management strategies with a monitoring and evaluation process into state DOT program goals and objectives. IVM plans are becoming a more common practice for state DOTs—64% of respondents stated they have some type of IVM plan. Table 4 shows that 16 states stipulated they have statewide IVM plans. California, South Carolina, and Washington have IVM plans for both statewide and urban specific locations. Twelve states responded they do not have any IVM plans. However, further review of state DOT websites for those responding they had no IVM documents, either statewide or urban specific, found statewide IMV documents for Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Urban Statewide Both None Found NA Figure 16. States with UFR landscape maintenance documents. Survey Choice State Responses Statewide AL, AZ, CA, CO, IA, KY, LA, MD, MI, MO, MT, NV, NC, OH, OR, PA, SC, TN, TX, UT, VT, WA, WI, WY Specific to urban districts AZ, CA, ID, SC, TX, WA Do not have AK, KS, MN, NH, ND, RI, WV Table 3. Survey responses for landscape maintenance.

State of the Practice 25 Figure 17 shows the survey responses and states with publicly available documents found through state DOT websites. Illegal or Unauthorized Use of the ROW An important issue for this project is the management of illegal or unauthorized use of the ROW. Many state DOTs are starting to implement policies and procedures for the removal of occupied areas and other illegal or unauthorized uses on the roadside. The majority of problems with illegal or unauthorized use of the ROW is in urban areas; however, of the 17 state responses to this survey question, only five states have plans specific to urban districts (see Table 5). California and Washington have statewide and urban specific policies. Minnesota is presently working on a policy regarding removal of illegal or unauthorized occupants. Figure 18 shows the survey responses and states with publicly available documents found through state DOT websites. Worker Safety Maintenance worker safety is of the utmost importance to state DOTs. The UFR presents specific threats to worker safety because of the constraints associated with the limited access, high traffic environment. Responding states indicate 20 of 33 (61%) have statewide plans for worker safety (see Table 6). Survey Choice State Responses Statewide AL, AK, AZ, CA, KY, LA, MD, MI, MO, MT, NC, OH, OR, PA, SC, WA Specific to urban districts CA, ID, NV, SC, WA Do not have CO, CT, IA, KS, MN, NH, ND, RI, VT, WV, WI, WY Table 4. Survey responses for integrated vegetation management plans. Urban Statewide Both None Found NA Figure 17. States with IVM plans for UFR.

26 Landscape Development and Management Practices for Urban Freeway Roadsides California and Washington have both statewide and urban specific plans. Idaho indicated they have urban specific plans. South Carolina indicated they have standard drawings for work zones that all contractors and permit holders are required to follow. Cooperative Agreements Cooperative agreements are often part of doing business for state DOTs. Landscape devel- opment and maintenance of the UFR can require intensive management beyond state DOT budgets. Cooperative agreements between state DOTs and other entities can provide personnel and resources for maintaining UFR landscape development. Twenty states responded that they use some sort of cooperative agreement for establishing and maintaining roadsides (see Table 7). Ten states indicated they are not currently using cooperative agreements for the work within the URF. However, some states such as Maryland use cooperative agreements with several urban municipalities on primary highways, but none on freeways. UFR Training This synthesis survey sought information about whether state DOTs require training, certi- fication, or other qualifications for personnel tasked with the design and maintenance of UFR projects. Of the responses received, 42% require that designers be qualified. This includes profes- sional registration for landscape architects and engineers. Of the responding states, 36% require training, certification, or both for construction inspectors. Maintenance personnel training is Survey Choices State Responses Statewide AZ, CA, IA, KS, LA, MD, MN, NV, NH, NC, SC, VT, WA, WY Specific to urban districts CA, CO, OH, UT, WA Do not have AL, AK, CT, ID, KY, MI, MT, ND, OR, PA, RI, TN, WV, WI Table 5. Survey responses for illegal or unauthorized use of the ROW. Urban Statewide Both None Found NA Figure 18. States with UFR documents on illegal or unauthorized use of the ROW.

State of the Practice 27 required by 45% of responding states. This includes certification for pesticide and herbicide applicators. Fifty-five percent of state DOTs require some level of training, qualification, or certification for other staff and contractors. UFR Research by State Departments of Transportation The survey asked for information about research and performance measurement pertain- ing to the costs of maintaining urban freeway landscape development. The specific results are in Appendix C. The categories of inquiry were as follows: • Worker safety • Direct labor • Equipment • Materials • Management and planning costs • Variances within the context of individual agencies and regional ecosystems • Noxious and invasive plant species • Perpetual mowing • Irrigation • Traffic controls for mowing and other maintenance • Revegetation • Landscape planting • Erosion control • Green infrastructure • Slope restoration • Wildflower planting • Hardscape • Aesthetic treatments • Other areas State Department of Transportation Documentation Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Washington responded that their DOTs have documentation of practices, policies, or protocols relating to the UFR areas of inquiry. The survey requested that state DOTs upload the current version of applicable documents. Several states provided website links to their specific documents. California, Texas, and Washington are the case examples presented in Chapter 4. A search of these DOT websites provided documentation for some states, but not all. Survey Choices State Responses Statewide AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, IA, KS. KY, LA, MO, MT, NH, NC, OH, PA, SC, TX, VT, WA, WY Specific to urban districts CA, ID, WA Do not have MD, MI, MN, NV, ND, OR, RI, TN, WV, WI, Table 6. Survey responses for worker safety. Survey Choices State Responses YES AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, ID, IA, LA, MN, MO, MT, NC, OH, SC, TX, UT, VT, WA, WI, WY NO KS, KY, MD, NV, NH, ND, OR, PA, RI, TN Table 7. Survey responses for cooperative agreements.

28 Landscape Development and Management Practices for Urban Freeway Roadsides Reasons for the lack of available documents may be that some documents listed by state DOTs may be internal ones that are not publicly available. Other documents not listed by a state DOT may be internal to the respective division within the organization and therefore not readily used or known to other divisions. Documentation on the illegal or unauthorized use of the ROW was difficult to find or unavailable. The following subsections list state DOT information obtained for the UFR. Table 8 shows the overall survey results. The entries in bold type indicate survey responses. The study team found documents through state DOT websites and other sources for non-responding DOTs and DOTs responded they did not have requested documents. These states appear in italic type in the table. Arizona The survey response for AZDOT stated they have documents pertaining to the UFR land- scape development and maintenance. The respondent supplied online links to eight documents related to roadside vegetation management. Three of them relate to the UFR in some manner. These include the following: • AZDOT’s Landscape Design for Urban Highways (Brooks 1988) • Slope Erosion Control for Urban Freeways in Arid Climates (Arizona Department of Trans- portation 1989) • Roadside Vegetation Management Recovery Area Diagrams (Arizona Department of Trans- portation 2017) Colorado The survey response for Colorado stated it has documents pertaining to the illegal or unauthorized use of the ROW. A search of the website and others did not find such documentation. Idaho Idaho Transportation Department (IDT) responded that it has urban specific documents for landscape and maintenance, IVM, and work zone safety. A search of the website and others did not find such documentation. The only document related to the project scope is a statewide flyer on the IDT website for IVM titled Welcome to Roadside Vegetation Management (Idaho Transportation Department 2016). Louisiana The survey response for Louisiana stated it has documents pertaining to UFR landscape development. The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (Louisiana DOTD) has a document that pertains to landscape development on the UFR titled Policy for Roadside Vegetation Management (Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development 2000). The majority of the references are to urban scenarios other than the UFR. Nevada The survey response for NVDOT stated it has documents pertaining to UFR landscape devel- opment. The Landscape and Aesthetics section of the NVDOT website contains master plans for several corridors that include UFR (Nevada Department of Transportation 2017).

State Landscape Development Roadside Maintenance IVM Plan Illegal Use of ROW Worker Safety Cooperative Agreements AL SW SW SW NO SW YES AK NO NO SW NO SW NO AZ BOTH BOTH SW SW SW YES AR No documents found on state DOT website. CA BOTH BOTH BOTH BOTH BOTH YES CO SW SW SW URBAN SW YES CT NO SW NO NO SW YES DE BOTH BOTH SW FL SW SW YES GA SW SW HI SW SW SW ID URBAN URBAN URBAN NO URBAN YES IL URBAN IN SW IA NO SW SW SW SW YES KS NO NO NO SW SW NO KY SW SW SW NO SW NO LA BOTH SW SW SW SW YES ME SW MA URBAN MD SW SW SW SW NO NO MI SW SW SW NO NO MN SW N SW SW NO YES MS No documents found on state DOT website. MO SW SW SW SW YES MT NO SW SW NO SW YES NE BOTH URBAN SW NV URBAN SW URBAN SW NO NO NH NO NO NO SW SW NO NJ YES NM URBAN SW YES NY BOTH SW NC BOTH SW SW SW SW YES ND NO NO NO NO NO NO OH SW SW SW URBAN SW YES OK No documents found on state DOT website. OR SW SW SW NO NO NO PA SW SW SW NO SW NO RI NO NO NO NO NO NO SC BOTH BOTH BOTH SW SW YES SD No documents found on state DOT website. TN SW SW SW NO NO NO TX BOTH BOTH SW SW YES UT NO SW SW URBAN YES VT SW SW NO SW SW YES VI SW SW YES WA BOTH BOTH BOTH BOTH BOTH YES WV NO NO NO NO NO WI SW BOTH SW NO NO YES WY SW SW NO SW SW YES Statewide (SW), specific to urban districts (URBAN), both statewide and urban (BOTH), have none (NO) Entries in bold type indicate survey responses. Entries in italic type indicate documentation was found by the study team. Table 8. Results for survey of practice and state DOT website searches.

30 Landscape Development and Management Practices for Urban Freeway Roadsides North Carolina The survey response for North Carolina DOT (NCDOT) stated it has documents pertain- ing to UFR landscape development. The NCDOT outlines many aspects of urban design in its Aesthetic Guidance Manual (North Carolina Department of Transportation 2015a). Some of this applies to the UFR; however, the focus is on the non-freeway environment. Another document containing some reference to the UFR is the Aesthetic Guidance Pattern Book (North Carolina Department of Transportation 2015b). Ohio The survey response for Ohio stated it has documents pertaining to the illegal or unauthorized use of the ROW. A search of the website and others did not find such documentation. South Carolina The survey response for South Carolina stated it has documents pertaining to the illegal or unauthorized use of the ROW. Information pertaining to illegal or unauthorized use of the ROW is contained in its Property Management Manual (South Carolina Department of Transportation 2019). Most references within this document pertain to the management of vacated properties for “preventing theft, vandalism, and occupancy by vagrants.” Utah The survey response for Utah stated it has documents pertaining to the illegal or unauthorized use of the ROW. The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) addresses illegal or unau- thorized use of the ROW in its Erosion Control and Roadside Stabilization Manual of Instruction (Utah Department of Transportation 2016). The document states the following: “Design roadsides, particularly areas under bridges, to reduce potential for homeless encampments. Keep clear lines of sight where this potential exists.” This is the only reference found on the UDOT website search.

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Current practices used by state departments of transporttion to design and manage the urban freeway roadsides (UFRs) environment is the focus of National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Synthesis 539: Landscape Development and Management Practices for Urban Freeway Roadsides.

The urban freeway roadsides (UFRs) for this synthesis are those roadsides associated with high visibility urban freeways with limited pedestrian access, such as wider medians, interchanges, and overpasses.

The UFR is part of a greater urban environment with broad social, political, economic, and environmental implications for management. There are numerous UFR stakeholders, such as their respective municipalities, residents, adjacent landowners and businesses, traveling public, and state DOTs, and each has specific requests, requirements, and considerations. Among these are an acceptable level of maintenance and stakeholder expectations for aesthetics.

State departments of transportation (DOTs) recognize their roadway systems are assets that need management and acknowledge that pavements and other infrastructure routinely require resurfacing, restoration, and rehabilitation because their integrity degrades over time. However, the UFR and its respective urban freeway systems may not receive the same routine restoration. The vegetation installed at the time of roadway construction ages with the surrounding infrastructure. Decades after initial installation within the UFR, transportation agencies have mature landscapes that may be near the end of their life cycle.

The inability to adequately access and maintain these areas can result in failure of planted vegetation, loss of investment, and public criticism of state DOTs. The UFR is part of state DOTs’ highway system investment facing many challenges as freeway renovations and expansions encroach on limited right-of-way (ROW) areas available for landscape development. As the size of these areas decreases, so does the ability of maintenance workers and equipment to safely access and maintain them.

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