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What does “Landscape and Aesthetics” mean?

Landscape and Aesthetics refers to the total visual impression of the highway, including:

  • Landscaping and art – which responds to the context of the surrounding communities and landscapes – incorporated into the right of way;
  • Well proportioned, visually pleasing bridges, slopes and drainage swales;
  • Views of the highway from adjacent neighborhoods; and
  • Carefully preserved scenic vistas viewed by motorists traveling through Nevada

Attention to landscape and aethetics results in built highways that contribute to Nevada’s tourist-based economy and its citizen’s quality of life.

What does the NDOT Landscape and Aesthetics program include?

The NDOT Landscape and Aesthetics program includes the policies, processes, documents, staff and partnerships that guide planning, design, construction, and maintenance of State highways.

Is the concept of considering landscape and aesthetics new in highway design?

In the middle of the 19th century the concept of parkway design began to emerge through the influence of Fredrick Law Olmsted. His influence and concepts in park design carried over to the notion of roadways serving as linear parks that connected open spaces in urban areas. Hallmark projects, which have defined significant design principles and illustrate the incorporation of aesthetics with highway engineering include: the Merritt Parkway; the Blue Ridge Parkway,; Natchez Trace Parkway; Sequoia-Kings Canyon Highway; and I-170 Vail Pas and I-70 through Glenwood Canyon. In addition, many state have taken up the challenge of designing highway systems which respond to the communities and landscapes through which they pass, including; Arizona, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Wisconsin.

(Additional information on the history of highway aesthetics and highway design in the United State can be found in Chapter Two of the I-15, I-80 Urban, and I-80 Rural Technical Information Report – Volume One: Inventory of Data.)  

What is the vision for the Nevada State Highway System?

  • A system of State highways that reflect the land and people of Nevada
  • Aesthetically pleasing, safe, cost effective highways
  • Landscape and aesthetics considered and addressed on all State highways

What are the benefits of this vision and the current project?

The benefits of the vision for the Nevada State Highway System are many. They include:

  • Enhancement of local and regional character through preservation of and emphasis on cultural and natural features, scenic views and community identity;
  • Improvement in the visual quality of Nevada’s highways and thus the driving experience, resulting in a positive influence on Nevada’s tourist-based economy.
  • Improvements in safety and wayfinding
  • Provision of a predictable, yet engaging, driving experience
  • Enhancement of environmental health by appropriately accounting for wildlife, erosion and runoff, and native plant communities.

Is the concept of considering landscape and aesthetics new in Nevada?

The idea of considering landscape and aesthetics in highway design is not new in Nevada. NDOT officially introduced the concept in its 1968 Aesthetics Manual. Although landscape and aesthetics have been factored into highway design in the past, Nevada is entering the twenty-first century with a renewed commitment to landscape and aesthetics as integral elements of the State’s highways.

The Landscape and Aesthetics Master Plan, developed in 2002, set the course of action for considering landscape and aesthetics throughout the life of every NDOT-managed highway. In response to the process outlined in the master plan, the corridor planning process addresses the next step in completing the vision for the State’s highways.

What is the process for including landscape and aesthetics on highway projects?

  • Step 1 – Master Planning. Set statewide policy and establishes the guidelines and process for incorporating landscape and aesthetics into highway design. The Nevada Department of Transportation adopted a Landscape & Aesthetics Master Plan in 2002.
  • Step 2 – Corridor Planning. Provides a management tool for determining levels of landscape and aesthetics treatments and develops priorities and budgets for incorporation into the State highway system. The corridor planning process is currently underway for nine (9) of Nevada’s eleven (11) corridors.
  • Step 3 – Project Design. Site specific planning.
  • Step 4 – Construction, Operations and Maintenance. Project installation that responds the design intent outlined in the corridor plan.

Why do Corridor Planning?

Corridor planning allows NDOT, local governments and the public to:

  1. Examine major design themes, levels of treatment, cost goals, and priorities for landscape and aesthetic treatments within the corridor;
  2. Initiate intergovernmental cooperative planning for landscape and aesthetic improvements;
  3. Promote community involvement in the decision-making process;
  4. Save money by identifying long-range needs and anticipating problems before solutions become too expensive; and
  5. Prioritize landscape and aesthetic projects for further development, design and construction.

What are highway corridors?

A highway corridor is a length of highway right-of-way and its associated secondary roads.

The length of a corridor is based on the character of its landscape: whether it is urban or rural; the type of land forms and plant communities; and cultural or historical regions. In general, corridors begin and end at the state border or at one of our larger cities.

Major highways on which the corridors are based include: Interstate-15, Interstate-80, US-395, US-95, US-50, and US-6.

Where are the corridors?

  1. US-95 from the State border near Laughlin to Henderson, including US-93 through Boulder City to Hoover Dam.
  2. I-15 from the California border at Primm to the Arizona border at Mesquite, including US-95 from Henderson north to the junction with SR-157 at Lee Canyon.
  3. US-95 from the junction with SR-157 to Tonopah.
  4. US-95 from Tonopah through Fallon to I-80, and including US-6 from Tonopah to the California border.
  5. US-6 from Tonopah to Ely.
  6. US-93 from the junction with I-15 at Apex to Ely.
  7. All of US-395 from the state line at Topaz Lake through Carson City and Reno to the state line north of Reno.
  8. I-80 from the California border through Reno and Sparks to Fernley.
  9. US-50 from the western state line through Fallon, Eureka, and Ely to the eastern state line.
  10. US-93 from Ely through Wells to the Idaho border at Jackpot.
  11. I-80 from Fernley through Lovelock, Winnemucca, Battle Mountain, Carlin, Elko, and Wells to West Wendover at the Utah border, and including US-95 from Winnemucca to McDermitt.

The corridor descriptions follow the NDOT standard practice of describing highways from south to north and from west to east.

During the scoping phase of each corridor plan, the NDOT planning team determines exactly which secondary roads will be included in the plan.

What corridors are included in the current Landscape & Aesthetics corridor plans?

  1. Interstate 15 Corridor (Corridor B in the Master Plan): I-15 from the California border at Primm to the Arizona border at Mesquite, including US-95 from Henderson north to the junction with SR 157 at Lee Canyon.
  2. Interstate 80 Urban Corridor (Corridor H in the Master Plan): I-80 from the California border through Reno and Sparks to Fernley, including portions of US-395 at the interchange with I-80.
  3. Interstate 80 Rural Corridor (Corridor K in the Master Plan): I-80 from Fernley to the Utah border, including US-95 from Winnemucca to the Oregon border.
  4. Southern US-95 / US-93 Corridor (Corridors A and C in the Master Plan): US-95 from the California state line near Searchlight to Henderson and from Kyle Canyon to the Clark County line near Indian Springs, including US-93 to Hoover Dam.
  5. Central US-95 / US-6 / US-50 Corridor (Corridors C, D, E and I in the Master Plan): US-95 from the Clark County line to I-80, US-6 from the California state line to Warm Springs, US-50 from Silver Springs to New Pass Summit, Alt US-95 and Alt US-50.
  6. Northern US-395 / US-50 Corridor (Corridors G and I in the Master Plan): US-395 from the California state line near Topay Lake to the California state line north of Reno and US-50 from the California state line at Stateline to New Pass Summit.

What is the Technical Review Committee (TRC)?

A Technical Review Committee (TRC) was formed for each corridor, and was composed of representatives from various public agencies, business groups, environmental groups, and other affected and/or interested stakeholders. The TRCs served as a working group to provide input and feedback on the corridor studies’ process and to review major deliverables. The committees also served as a conduit for the local communities to stay informed about the progress of the studies. The TRCs served in an advisory or recommending role.