Visual resources are physical features that define the aesthetic character of an area. Because people are continuously exposed to visual stimuli, visual resources are an important aspect of environmental quality. They can influence viewers’ perception of an area, provide a sense of community, and contribute to overall quality of life. Transportation projects often alter the physical appearance of surrounding environments, which can impact visual quality positively or negatively.
There are many historic buildings on JBLM within the Garrison Historic District near I-5. The project would change the visibility of some of the buildings from I-5 and the view from the buildings when looking toward I-5. Understanding how the views from the buildings toward I-5 would change with the project was the focus of the visual quality analysis due to their presence within an historic area.
Visual effects were evaluated using simulations of the project elements within photographs taken from locations near important historic buildings. Potential impacts of the project include several long-term changes to visual character:
- Retaining walls related to construction of the Exit 119 interchange. These walls would be up to 25 feet high. Wall treatments and/or vegetation would be used to soften their appearance.
- Increased pavement width on I-5. This change would be consistent with the appearance of I-5 north of the project.
- Removal of existing trees and other vegetation. WSDOT would replace trees removed on JBLM but the new trees would be smaller than the existing ones until they reach maturity.
- Two new noise abatement walls, one of which would affect current views of I-5 from JBLM historic buildings and residential areas, as well as views from I-5 toward these areas. Wall treatments and vegetation would be used inside JBLM to soften their appearance when viewed from inside the Historic District.
For More Information
To read more about the study approach, existing conditions, and effects on visual quality, please see Section 3.11 of the Supplemental Environmental Assessment.