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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Conclusions." 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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Page 42
Page 43
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Conclusions." 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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Page 43

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42 Conclusions Landscape development and management practices for urban freeways with limited access roadsides presents many challenges. State DOTs face aging UFRs containing mature or declining vegetation that may necessitate management practices that are reactive rather than proactive. 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 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. A review of the literature and state DOT documents for this synthesis covered sustainable landscape development and maintenance practices for the urban environment, the use of an integrated vegetation management approach to roadsides, establishment of cooperative agree- ments, management of the illegal or unauthorized use of the ROW, and protection of mainte- nance workers. However, very little documentation exists that specifically addresses the issues for high visibility urban freeways with limited pedestrian access, such as wider medians, inter- changes, and overpasses. The majority of references to urban roadways within the literature and state DOT documents were in the context of urban arterials and collectors, streetscapes, and complete streets. The responses from the survey indicate that most state transportation agencies do not address landscape development and management practices specific to UFR in their planning, design, construction, environmental, and maintenance documents. The issue of the illegal or unauthor- ized use of the ROW has grown in recent years in urban environments. The study team found very few publicly available state DOT policies for the management of illegal or unauthorized ROW use. Many state DOTs rely on state or local law enforcement to handle illegal or unauthorized use of the ROW. Several possible deterrent methods identified include the following: • Incorporate CPTED concepts in project planning and design stages. • Retrofit existing infrastructure with deterrents, such as signage, fencing, and other enclosures, to reduce illegal or unauthorized uses. • Use local ordinances. • Develop MOUs with local entities to establish jurisdictional management. • Coordinate with local authorities and other interested groups for assistance. • Modify landscape development to make areas more visible to law enforcement and less attrac- tive for illegal or unauthorized occupancy. The use of cooperative or partnering agreements for perpetual maintenance is a method used by 61% of the states responding to the survey. Some states have agreements with local partners C H A P T E R 5 Conclusions

Conclusions 43 for UFR development that cover project costs from development through maintenance. A few states require an agreement in place with a local entity for perpetual maintenance prior to instal- lation of a project. Some state DOTs reported the lack of documentation within their respective DOT. However, further investigation found documents. Reasons for the lack of available documents may be that some documents not listed by the state DOTs may be internal ones that are not publicly avail- able. Other documents not listed by state DOTs may be internal to a division within the organi- zation and therefore not readily used or known to other divisions or groups within a state DOT. The documentation regarding the illegal or unauthorized use of the ROW was difficult to find or unavailable. The ability to design the UFR for maintainability is most effective when plan- ning, design, environmental, construction, and maintenance collaborate to achieve an effective design that meets stakeholder expectations and needs. Further Research There is an opportunity for future research to advance state DOTs’ knowledge regarding landscape development and management practices for the UFR. This synthesis identified knowledge gaps and the following are suggested topics for further research: • Impacts of increasing ITS technology within the UFR. Workers must be able to access and maintain ITS within the UFR, as well as perform the other duties necessary to maintain the UFR. Little research exists that addresses how landscape development coexists with tech- nology within the UFR. Worker safety and sustainable landscape development coordination begin in the project planning stages and continue through long-term maintenance. In addi- tion, the potential impacts on ITS components by the illegal or unauthorized use of the ROW (e.g., theft, damage, access to equipment by state DOT personnel) are also of concern. • Deterrent techniques for illegal or unauthorized use of the ROW. Further investigation is needed into the lifecycle of project development to address the UFR early in the planning stages. This includes planning, design, construction, and maintenance techniques used to deter the illegal or unauthorized use of the ROW. This process can identify partnerships that provide support and assistance. This may include best practices for implementing dedicated crews tasked with the removal and cleanup of vacated areas. There are numerous social, politi- cal, community health, environmental, and state DOT personnel safety concerns associated with illegal or unauthorized uses of the ROW and accompanying potential hazards. • Work zone safety practices for maintenance workers specific to the UFR. Working within the constrained urban freeway environment has specific safety concerns. Many state DOTs have work zone safety protocols, but few specifically address the UFR. The UFR has changed in recent years. Maintenance workers face the uncertainty of illegal ROW users and more technology within their work zone. There may be methods appropriate for use within the UFR (e.g., safe ingress and egress, time of day, lane closures) that work most effectively when strategized in the planning stage of project development. • Develop a best management practices guide specific to the UFR. Little information is avail- able that specifically addresses the UFR. Guidance is needed on how to incorporate the issues at the project planning stage so that state DOTs can take a proactive approach to design, construction, and maintenance and proceed with knowledge of the challenges associated with the UFR. Guidance could include best management practices for landscape develop- ment, sustainable roadside maintenance and management practices, illegal or unauthorized use of the ROW, ITS, worker safety, and development of cooperative relationships with local entities and others.

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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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