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Visual Quality Management

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Visual Impact Assessment
Pipeline Expansion Projects
Chippewa National Forest, Minnesota
Enbridge and US Forest Service

Enbridge, one of North America’s largest pipeline distributors of oil and natural gas, wanted to expand its existing pipeline capacity through Chippewa National Forest. At the specific request of the US Forest Service for his services, Enbridge hired Craig Churchward to conduct a visual impact assessment of the proposed pipelines. Under Craig’s leadership, impacts to visual quality were identified and mitigation strategies that were easily implemented were developed to the satisfaction of both Enbridge and the US Forest Service. 

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Visual Impact Assessment Guidelines for Highway Projects
(Newly revised edition anticipated 2014)
Federal Highway Administration
Washington, DC

Avenue Design Partners, under contract with ICF International, provided the expert knowledge as the lead author rewriting the FHWA’s Visual Impact Assessment Guidelines for Highway Projects. Based on the research findings documented in NCHRP Report 741, the new process is premised on a scientific approach to understanding the perception of landscape aesthetics. It documents a step-by-step process that identifies the value a community places on visual quality and how to best avoid, minimize, or mitigate for adverse impacts while incorporating beneficial impacts into a roadway project. The guidance is scheduled to be released on the FHWA Guidance Website in late 2014.

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Report 741: Evaluation of Methodologies for Visual Impact Assessment
National Cooperative Highway Research Program
Transportation Research Board
Washington, DC

Managed an international team of academic researchers in conducting an extensive literature search, a comprehensive survey of state departments of transportation, and a thorough review of selected visual impact assessments to develop a set of state-of-the-art best practices for assessing visual impacts caused by highway projects.  NCHRP Report 741 Evaluation of Methodologies for Visual Impact Assessment is available for free on-line at:

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Visual Impact Assessment Process
Minnesota Department of Transportation
St. Paul, Minnesota

Developed MnDOT’s Visual Impact Assessment (VIA) process as a method to evaluate changes in visual quality caused by highway and other infrastructure projects. Originally developed to provide a scientific and pragmatic approach for evaluating impacts to crossing the St. Croix National Scenic River between Minnesota and Wisconsin, the process has been used on highway and bridge projects throughout the country. It has also been used to evaluate visual impacts of proposed dams and pipelines.  A key feature of the MnDOT process, which differentiates it from most other VIA processes is the recognition that human perception of visual quality is based on the relationship viewers have with their environment. Winner of the 1994 ASLA (Minnesota Chapter) Honor Award for Public Planning.

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The MnDOT VIA process was developed by Craig Churchward as an employee of MnDOT. The development of the Visual Quality Management specification and the VIA for Enbridge pipeline through the Chippewa National Forest were produced as an employee of HNTB. All other work was developed under Avenue Design Partners. Photos by Craig Churchward or from project portfolios. Illustrations from project portfolios.