Manuals for Planning and Design

Share via:

Caltrans Manuals for Landscape Architects
Manuals for Planning and Design

Following Caltrans manuals helps ensure that projects comply with Federal, State, and local requirements.


Planning and Design Manuals

Landscape Architects use a wide range of Caltrans manuals to create projects that comply with State and Federal regulations. The list of manuals below provides links to sections of Caltrans manuals most commonly used by Landscape Architects. Click the blue text in the listings below to be directed to a web page with the information that you are looking for.

Receive Notification of Manual Updates

Did you know that you can sign-up to be notified of updates to Caltrans Manuals? Click here to sign-up to be notified.


Project Development Procedures Manual

The Project Development Procedures Manual (PDPM) addresses policies and procedures, roles and responsibilities, transportation planning, and procedural standards and guidelines applicable to the project development process from project initiation through construction.  For an excellent and quick view of the entire project development process, see How Caltrans Builds Projects.  Then consider taking the online course, Introduction to the Project Development Process.

The policies and procedures that guide landscape architects in their responsibilities through the project development process are primarily found in Chapter 29 (PDF) , “Landscape Architecture”.  Provided are definitions, general policies, roles and responsibilities, the project development process, and policies and procedures on topics such as highway planting, safety roadside rest areas, vista points, aesthetics, transportation art, community identification, and gateway monuments.

Below are Chapters, and Topics in which Landscape Architects are typically involved.


Table of Contents
Ch Sect Art Subject Updated
    Introduction 07/01/99L
  4   - Transportation Planning leads to Project Development  
    3 - - Regional and System Planning 02/12/16
2     Roles and Responsibilities  
  1   - Headquarters Division of Design  
  8   - Use of Consultants  
3     Involvement of Caltrans Functional Units 12/18/15
  12   - Landscape Architecture  
8     Overview of Project Development  02/12/16
  4   - Project Development Team  
  7   - Policies and Procedures that Span the Project Development Process  
    7 - - Owner-Operator Considerations  
12     Project Approvals and Changes to Approved Projects 02/12/16
  4   - Other Caltrans Reports that Approve Projects  
14     Preparation of Project Plans 06/21/13L
  2   Preliminary Plans  
    2 Geometric Base Maps  
  3   Final Plans  
    4 The Project Plans  
20     Project Development Cost Estimates 10/09/14L
  1   Project Cost Estimating  
    5 Coordination with Other Functional Units and Agencies  
22     Community Involvement  07/01/99L
  3   Securing Governmental Consent to Projects  
29     Landscape Architecture 06/21/13L


Appendix Title Updated
 D Preparation Guidelines for Project Report
(New Highway Planting or Roadside Rehabilitation)
E Preparation Guidelines for Project Study Report Data Sheet
(New Highway Planting and Highway Planting Restoration)
M Preparation Guidelines for Project Report
(Safety Roadside Rest Area)
Q Preparation Guidelines for Project Report
(Roadside Safety Improvements)          
X Preparation Guidelines for Project Study Report
(Safety Roadside Rest Area)
EE Highway Planting “One Liner” and
Design Intent Statement (DIS) 

Highway Design Manual

The Highway Design Manual (HDM) establishes uniform design standards to accomplish Caltrans’ highway design function.  It is Caltrans’ main source of guidance on highway design.

The most relevant chapter to the landscape architect is Chapter 900 (PDF)  “Landscape Architecture”, but there are several additional chapters that provide relevant information.  Below are HDM Chapters, Topics and Indexes in which Landscape Architects are typically involved include


Highway Design Manual - Table of Contents
Chapter Topic # Subject Updated
10   Division of Design       
20   Designation of Highway Routes  
40   Federal-Aid  
60   Nomenclature 12-30-15
  62 Definitions  
  62.5 Landscape Architecture  
80   Application of Design Standards  
100   Basic Design Policies 12-30-15
  109 Scenic Values in Planning and Design  
  110 Special Considerations  
  110.2 Control of Water Pollution  
  110.4 Wetlands Protection  
  110.5 Control of Noxious Weeds – Exotic and Invasive Species  
  110.10 Proprietary Items  
200   Geometric Design and Structure 12-30-15
  201 Sight Distance  
  201.6  Stopping Sight Distance on Horizontal Curves  
  210 Reinforced Earth Slopes and Earth Retaining Systems  
  210.5 Aesthetic Considerations  
300   Geometric Cross Section 12-30-15
  304 Side Slopes  
  304.1 Side Slope Standards  
  304.4 Contour Grading and Slope Rounding  
  304.5 Stepped Slopes  
400   Intersections at Grade 12-30-15
  405 Intersection Design Standards  
  405.10 Roundabouts  
500   Traffic Interchanges 12-30-15
  504 Interchange Design Standards  
  504.2 Freeway Entrances and Exits  
600   Pavement Engineering  
  610 Pavement Engineering Considerations  
  620 Rigid Pavement  
  630 Flexible Pavement  
  640 Composite Pavements  
  650 Pavement Drainage  
  660 Base and Subbase  
670   Tapers and Shoulder Backing 12-30-15
  671 Pavement Tapers - Figure 671.3B Longitudinal Tapers at Shoulders, Curbs, Dikes, Inlets, and Metal Beam Guard Railing  
700   Miscellaneous Standards 12-30-15
  705 Materials and Color Selection  
  705.2 Colors for Steel Structures  
  706 Roadside Treatment  
  706.1 Roadside Management  
  706.2 Vegetation Control  
  706.3 Topsoil  
  706.4 Irrigation Crossovers for Highway Construction Projects  
  706.5 Water Supply Line (Bridge) and Sprinkler Control Conduit for Bridge  
  707 Slope Treatment under Structures  
  707.1 Policy  
  707.2 Guidelines for Slope Treatment  
  707.3 Procedure  
800   General Aspects 12-30-15
  806 Definition of Drainage Terms  
  806.2 Drainage Terms Vernal Pools  
810   Hydrology  
820   Cross Drainage  
830   Transportation Facility Drainage  
840   Subsurface Drainage  
850   Physical Standards  
860   Roadside Channels 03-07-14
  861 General  
  861.3 Damaged Channel  
  864 Channel Stability Design Concepts  
  864.2 Stable Channel Design Procedure  
  865 Channel Linings  
  865.1 Flexible Verses Rigid  
  865.3 Long-Term Flexible Lining  
  865.5  Bare Soil Design and Grass Lining  
  865.6 Rolled Erosion Control Products  
870   Channel and Shore Protection 03-07-14
  871 General  
  871.2 Design Philosophy  
  873 Design Concepts  
  873.1 Introduction  
  873.3 Armor Protector  
880   Underground Disposal  
890   Storm Water Management 09-01-06
  892 Storm Water Management Strategies  
  892.3 Design Considerations  
900   Landscape Architecture 12-30-15
1000   Bicycle Transportation Design  
1100   Highway Traffic Noise Abatement 12-30-15
  1102 Design Criteria  
  1102.6 Noise Barrier Aesthetics  

Storm Water Project Planning and Design Guide

The Storm Water Project Planning and Design Guide (PPDG) describes the process for Caltrans staff to incorporate the BMPs from the SWMP into the planning and design phases of a project.

Standard Environmental Reference

The Standard Environmental Reference (SER) is an on-line resource to help state and local agency staff plan, prepare, submit, and evaluate environmental documents for transportation projects.