The roads and highways of America are very important parts of our communities. They have increased our ability to transport goods and have allowed people to connect easily to other parts of the country. They have also been criticized for ruining scenery and destroying habitats. So in recent years an increasing number of American states have attempted to pay more attention to the visual impact of freeways on the places through which the roads run. Conscious attempts have been made to integrate road and landscape into a successful composition reflecting the culture of the region. In May 2000 Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) began a process to create a vision for our state highway system and to satisfy a need for improved landscapes and aesthetics standards. The overall goal is
to improve the appearance of Nevada’s highways and to reflect the beauty of Nevada and its people. Landscapes engineers and landscape architects have worked to preserve native plants and use them as elements in a kind of idealized desert landscape in the median and along the berms. But it is more than just plants and art. It also includes well-proportioned and visually pleasing bridges, slopes, and drainage swales and carefully preserved scenic vistas viewed by motorists driving through
Nevada. One of the major landscape and aesthetics projects that NDOT has been working on is part of I-15 south re-design project from Tropicana Avenue to Blue Diamond Road. The overall purpose of this project is to help traffic flow more smoothly by widening the freeway access roads. Along this stretch of highway you will find freeway on and off ramps that are neatly designed with various colored rocks, boulders and native plants. But the most prominent part of the re-design may be the 40 animal statues that line the freeway. Another aesthetics project was the installation of decorated sound walls along portions of US 95 as part of a widening project. City streets have seen
aesthetic and landscape improvements as part of road improvement projects as well. The designs for these areas attempt to retain the character and individuality of the area. They also show greater
attention to detail due to slower driving speeds. Designs for city streets also have to create an inviting pedestrian environment. NDOT believes that improving the visual quality of Nevada’s roads and highways will have a positive influence on our tourist-based economy.