Category:241 Aesthetic Considerations

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Sound walls are commonly treated for aesthetics

The purpose and need of MoDOT's work may necessitate the responsible use of aesthetic applications. Such applications, in cooperation with stakeholders, will allow the system to blend with the character and reflect the cultural and environmental values of the communities they serve. MoDOT will consider baseline aesthetic applications that represent minimal costs to the project, can be reasonably maintained, and do not compromise safety. As much as possible, the applications should complement the surrounding area. When the stakeholder supplies additional funding and/or maintenance of aesthetic applications above the baseline, they will need to enter into an agreement with MoDOT.

When MoDOT Maintenance forces, in their normal activities, perform work within MoDOT rights of way, consideration should be given to practical aesthetics such as hardware which was installed for aesthetics or which has historical or regional significance.

241.1 Guidance

Aesthetics shall be considered on every project, although both reason and experience would dictate that in many cases, the consideration would yield no actual deployment of treatments. Nevertheless, the consideration is critical in that it provides the most assurance that projects with a legitimate aesthetic need will not be overlooked.

241.2 Potential Triggers

There are several aspects of any project that may trigger the need for aesthetic applications. Individual projects will inevitably present details, not listed here, that could necessitate aesthetic applications.


  • Maintaining environmental and human harmony
  • Environmental constraints
  • Environmental and historical mitigation needs
  • Expediting Project Development

Public Interest

  • Projects with high visibility to a community
  • Previous project within the community have included aesthetics
  • Maintaining a community theme
  • Cost share projects
  • Existing master plan
  • Corridor continuity
  • Opportunities for improved quality of life
  • Mitigating adverse community impact from project
  • Merging livability with mobility goals

Context and Location

  • City limits
  • Tourist areas (i.e. Branson, Lake of the Ozarks)
  • Scenic vistas landscape (national parks, etc.)
  • Existing landmarks replaced
  • State, regional and / or community “gateway” potential
  • Proximity to significant cultural resources, whether man-made or natural
  • Community landscape themes
  • Unique physical character of corridor environment

241.3 Engaging Stakeholders

In order for an aesthetics application to be properly planned, designed, or constructed, it is critical that the project team engage the stakeholders. In this manner, the community will collaborate with MoDOT to arrive at the aesthetics treatment that most closely meets its needs.

If the project team's aesthetic analysis determines a need, it becomes critical to identify and engage the stakeholders as early in the design process as possible. In this collaboration, the stakeholders should be made aware of the baseline aesthetic package that MoDOT intends to provide. The baseline package will consist of low-cost treatments that are added to the project in addition to MoDOT's normal construction.

The stakeholder may desire aesthetic treatments in excess of the baseline. If this is the case, the project team will continue the collaboration to arrive at a mutually acceptable plan. In any case, the cost of construction and maintenance in perpetuity of any application above the baseline, will be completely borne by the stakeholders.

Once an acceptable plan has been identified, MoDOT and the stakeholders must enter into an agreement that contains the following elements, at a minimum:

  • Description and location of the specific aesthetic application(s)
  • Description of the stakeholder’s responsibility for maintenance
  • Description of the stakeholder’s contribution for construction costs
  • Arrangements for stakeholder payments
  • A failure to maintain clause

241.4 Applications

The following lists contain examples of construction elements that are commonly treated for aesthetics:


  • Columns and abutments
  • Substructures
  • Lighting
  • Railings
  • Girders
  • Cable color
  • Cable lighting
  • Beams
  • Bridge style
  • Barrier curb
  • Signage equipment (painting signing, signals and lighting structures)
  • Monument structure (bridge)
  • Color
  • Aesthetic Message (refer to Fig. 241.4)
Fig. 241.4, Display of Signs and Messages on Bridges
* The maximum street name sign size is limited to 240 in. x 30 in.
  • Street names, if installed, shall be placed on the bridge structure outside of the shoulder point. The street name may be placed as a special sign, individual fixed letters attached to the bridge structure or another MoDOT approved display which can be removed and/or updated should the street name change in the future. Embossed street names are not permitted due to the permanent nature of the installation and street names can change.
  • Option – A street name may be placed in the center of a bridge span, centered over the median of a divided highway. The maximum area used to display the street name is limited to 240 in. wide by 30 in. tall, including legend and border, if a border is used.
  • Signs or other markings depicting a city, community, or geographical name, seal, or nickname may be placed outside of the shoulder point in accordance with EPG 903.4 Overhead Sign Mounting. The city name may be placed as a special sign, individual fixed letters attached to the bridge structure, embossed into the concrete or through the use of another MoDOT approved display method.


  • Retaining walls
  • Sound walls
  • MSE wall panels
  • Gabions
  • Fencing


  • Curbs and gutters
  • Roadside hardware (cables, guardrails, etc.)
  • Barrier walls (rock)
  • Railroad crossings
  • Signage equipment
  • Glare screens
  • Underground vs. overhead utilities
  • Slopes


  • Colors
  • Concrete surface texture
  • Pavement (asphalt / concrete)
  • Construction material
  • Quiet pavement
  • Shoulder type (width / material)
  • Roadway curvature
  • Roundabouts
  • Interchange type

Traffic Control Devices

  • Light poles
  • Lighting equipment
  • Lighting (lamp posts)
  • Signal mast arms
  • Signals
  • Signal equipment
  • Signal posts & arms
  • Signal poles
  • Signage equipment
  • Street names embossed into Bridge concrete or on special sign

Bicycle / Pedestrian Facilities

  • Sidewalk ramps
  • ADA ramps in sidewalks
  • Streetscape
  • Sidewalks
  • Lighting
  • Railings – crosswalks, bridge and pedestrian areas
  • Bridge pedestrian rail
  • Crosswalks
  • Sidewalks
  • Paved median / island treatments / raised medians
  • Surfaces
  • Maintenance buildings
  • Rest areas


  • Planters on single point bridges
  • Fill rock
  • Types of trees and shrubs
  • Types of grass
  • Monuments
  • Interchange Right of Way
  • Paved median / island treatments
  • Transportation art
  • Flags, banners and decorations
  • Gateway treatments
  • Furnishings (garbage cans, benches, bike racks, etc.)

241.5 Constraints

As practical aesthetics are developed, existing constraints apply to their application such as:

  • AASHTO (Green Book, LFRD, Roadside Design Guide, etc.)
  • MUTCD (Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices)
  • NCHRP 350 and/or MASH 2016: AASHTO Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware (2016)
  • Utility conflicts
  • Right of Way (limited amount of space, access control, who owns)
  • Environment and/or location

Safety concerns will override any constraints shown in these publications. The project teams must collaborate with the Central Office Highway Safety and Traffic Division in developing aesthetic plans.

241.6 Maintenance Guidance

When MoDOT performs routine maintenance on right of way, consideration should be given to practical aesthetics. For example, if hardware was installed for aesthetics or has historical or regional significance, it should be replaced in kind. Other examples include guardrail repair or replacement, architectural lighting, signage, etc.