The National Academies

NCHRP Synthesis 20-05/Topic 49-06 [New]

Design and Maintenance Solutions for Urban Freeway Roadsides
[ NCHRP 20-05 (Synthesis of Information Related to Highway Practices) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $45,000
Staff Responsibility: Jo Allen Gause
Fiscal Year: 2017

Tentative Scope

Maintaining roadside vegetation in highly developed urban settings is increasingly challenging for state transportation agencies. In many cases, park-like and ornamental plantings installed on urban roadsides when the freeway was originally constructed have proven unsustainable for state transportation agencies. The inability to adequately maintain these areas has resulted in failure of vegetation, loss of investment, and public criticism of state transportations agencies.

Factors contributing to the challenges of maintaining urban freeway roadsides include:
• Constant high traffic volumes create safety risks for maintenance workers, difficult site access, and extensive traffic control requirements.
• Ongoing expensive investment in added labor, equipment, and materials, particularly where permanent irrigation and perpetual mowing is required.
• Illegal camping by transient populations.
• Extensive weed problems.

The objective of this synthesis is to document the extent and magnitude of problems related to urban freeway roadside maintenance for state departments of transportation and to identify solutions that states have found to be effective. Highlighting examples of sustainable solutions would be of benefit in areas struggling with this aspect of highway maintenance operations. The synthesis will also identify knowledge gaps and suggest future research to address them.

Work to be performed includes, but is not limited to:
1. Survey of state departments of transportation to document the magnitude and details of the problem.
2. Identify and document solutions reported by state DOTs as effective.
3. Identify and synthesize current and ongoing research relating to urban freeway roadsides.

Information will be gathered by literature review, a survey of state departments of
transportation, and follow up interviews for case examples. An 80% survey response is

TRB Staff
Jo Allen Gause
Phone: 202-334-3826
Email: jagause@nas.edu

Meeting Dates
First Panel: November 16, 2017, Washington, DC
Teleconference with Consultant:
Second Panel:

Topic Panel
David W. Crawley, Manager-Landscape Architecture & Design Group
Amanda A. Fowler, Texas DOT
Valerie Friedmann, Auburn University
John Greene, New York State DOT
Scott Lucas, Ohio Department of Transportation
Kevin Schot, Florida DOT
Raymond Willard, Washington State DOT
Morgan Kessler, Federal Highway Administration
Carolyn Nelson, Federal Highway Administration
Nancy M. Whiting, Transportation Research Board

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