Designing Transportation Corridors with Context, Theme and Aesthetics--Some Recent Examples from Western Canada

This paper is a collaboration between a geometric designer and an aesthetics planner on approaches to designing and preparing specifications for major arterial corridor projects in Western Canada. Selected routes are extremely sensitive in terms of context. Most areas have strong senses of community and history. Corridors or new connectors invariably cross environmentally rich flood plains or established residences and farmland. They may also traverse steep and sensitive mountain slopes with salmon-bearing creeks. Vistas are usually varied mountain and river scenery. There is an urgent desire not to repeat some of the mistakes that have been made in providing earlier arterial corridors that are often aesthetically bland and devoid of character. In Canada, new or upgraded non-freeway roads are being conceived as limited speed facilities which incorporate explicit safety and provide opportunity for initiative in the form of contemporary geometric design and construction practices. These include requirements to incorporate human factors and speed management as supported by crash prediction. Opportunity is provided for the provision of state-of-the-art river crossings and supporting structures. Central to arterial planning is the desire by project developers to design facilities within context and to illustrate this graphically be means of visual theme and aesthetics plans. These plans are to be incorporated into every geometric component of the design and have led to the preparation of sets of context sensitive design guidelines to steer the corridor design in order to meet the community and environmental values. Such guidelines incorporate the need for aesthetics and design to meet driver expectations. Current Canadian practice encourages geometric designers to move away from purely functional requirements of vehicles towards providing roads that are seen as community assets with designs that are flexible, safe and still meet demands of mobility. Taking clues from precedents established by the Great Parkways of the past, design aesthetics are divided into three categories: segments, gateways and transitions. Themes include such design features as entry gates and icons, coordinated signage, viewing promontories and development themes aimed at establishing a sense of place for the resultant project. The authors have worked for both owner development teams and design/build contractor teams. As a result, they have been able to both contribute and respond to design guidelines, thereby putting theory into practice. The end result is to use context sensitive approaches to provide road facilities that are attributes to communities and are operationally safe, implementable and affordable. This paper describes the rational for the development of guidelines, the requirements of design/builders and the challenges of successful implementation.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: CD-ROM
  • Features: Bibliography; Figures; Photos; Tables;
  • Pagination: 27p
  • Monograph Title: 3rd International Symposium on Highway Geometric Design, June 29-July 1, 2005, Chicago, Illinois: Compendium of Papers CD-ROM

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01004453
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Sep 28 2005 9:14AM