Leading Landscape Design Practices for Cost-Effective Roadside Water Management – A Review

by Christine Colley, ASLA, RLA, and Lucy Joyce, ASLA

cover images from the Leading Landscape Design Practices For Cost-Effective Roadside Water Management / images: Nevada Department of Transportation, New York City Department of Environmental Protection report
Leading Landscape Design Practices For Cost-Effective Roadside Water Management / images: Nevada Department of Transportation, New York City Department of Environmental Protection

Does your state Department of Transportation (DOT) have standards for green infrastructure (GI)? A recent study from the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) investigated how transportation agencies are applying the principles and practices of GI. The study—Leading Landscape Design Practices for Cost-Effective Roadside Water Managementwas requested by the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and prepared by a team of experts that included Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and DOT staff from across the country (California, Minnesota, Washington, Maine, Louisiana, and Nevada). The team scanned existing state DOT GI regulations, targeted regional, city, and DOTs with robust GI programs, and conducted a deep dive into GI standards and specifications. The intent was to suss out successful and unsuccessful practices with an eye toward developing guidelines for state and other public agencies to use when creating GI programs.

The study defined green infrastructure as roadside stormwater management, low impact development (LID), and hydromodification or watershed actions that conserve water, buffer climate change impacts, improve water quality, water supply, and public health, and restores and protects rivers, creeks, and streams as a component of transportation development projects and operations. Despite substantial documentation on GI design, buy-in from all levels of government (federal, state, and local), ample research, and a plethora of knowledgeable consultants, the team found that state DOTs do not consistently employ GI techniques and often only use them when required by regulatory agencies. The study was developed to help inform public agencies on the components of successful GI programs.

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#iAdvocate: Be an Advocate for Transportation

ASLA 2011 Professional General Design Award of Excellence. Portland Mall Revitalization, ZGF Architects LLP / image: ZGF Architects LLP

The future of federal transportation and transit funding has many of us concerned as we hear how legislative priorities are taking shape in the Capitol. With this uncertainty, the need for landscape architects to advocate for less-costly, green infrastructure solutions and stable transportation funding that serves community needs is greater than ever before. In this post, and in tandem with Advocacy Day this week, we’re focusing on ASLA’s advocacy efforts and encouraging our members to bring their voices to the transportation priorities conversation.

ASLA’s 2017 Advocacy Agenda is taking shape. On March 9, ASLA released their top U.S. infrastructure recommendations: Landscape Architects Leading Community Infrastructure Design and Development. The report makes recommendations for supporting active transportation programs, expanding and increasing funding for the TIGER program, and investing in transit and transit-oriented development.

On March 17, ASLA released their statement on President Trump’s proposed budget and called out the dramatic cuts to many of the federal programs and resources that strengthen our nation’s infrastructure and economic development. ASLA will continue to work with legislators as the budget process unfolds and will carry forward a strong advocacy agenda.

How can you as a member advocate for transportation funding and sound infrastructure solutions? If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for the ASLA iAdvocate Network so that you can support the Society’s efforts to impact public policy at national, state and local levels. Once you sign up, email alerts are delivered to your inbox on issues important to landscape architecture that are being debated by lawmakers. With a few clicks, you can send a message to your Senators and Representative and make your voice a part of ASLA’s advocacy efforts.

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