What is FDOTree?
FDOTree is a District 2 Outreach Program designed improve communications with project partners and to facilitate internal discussions with FDOT Engineers regarding all things associated with landscaping.
Why was FDOTree created?
This program was developed for two essential reasons. One, is to establish landscaping as an integral part of roadway design for state projects early in the design process. Two, is to provide information to the public regarding state projects that environmentally impact the community.
What else can FDOTree provide?
FDOTree was also created to educate the District and the public on the requirements to accommodate landscape development within State ROW. District landscaping projects are continually being developed, planned and programmed in a multi-year process which is subject to budget allocations, design and construction schedules and prioritization of projects Districtwide. To facilitate a greater community awareness of the changing dynamics of delivering landscape projects in the District, FDOTree is envisioned as a means to provide the most current planning information to the public for greater awareness of the program.
How difficult is it to landscape FDOT Right of Way?
This varies from project to project. Not all roadways within State ROW can be landscaped. Numerous challenges dictate when, where and how a State roadway can be landscaped. Challenges to be addressed include limited ROW, appropriate safety setback criteria, sight visibility, legal views to permitted Outdoor Advertising Signs, current and future roadway construction and District budgetary limitations.
What can FDOTree landscape?
At a minimum all projects must meet FDOT criteria and be located “on system” within state Right of Way. This typically means alongside interstates and state roadways. This includes FDOT retention ponds and along soundwalls. Funding for improvements are primarily restricted to landscape and irrigation features. Streetscaping items such as benches, kiosks, trash receptacles or lighting are not eligible.
How are landscaping projects identified?
The District continually reviews the roadway work program to evaluate roadway projects which may be a candidate for landscape improvements. The District also considers recommendations and requests for landscaping provided from municipalities and the community. The District is always on the lookout for potential projects. Sometimes this means an independent location absent of any roadway work and sometimes this means a landscaped project is desired as a follow-up after a roadway project.
What happens after a landscaping project is identified?
All potential landscape projects are reviewed to ensure compliance with FDOT criteria and current Design Standards. Once all compliance standards are confirmed a project is then further refined and identified as a candidate project in the District Work Program. All candidate projects are considered as placeholders until the projects are vetted and approved for adoption into the Work Program. Once projects are adopted they are vetted further for annual evaluation.
What is the Work Program?
Each District in the state manages and funds FDOT projects through their Work Program. Essentially it is a budgetary road map for future improvements. Every project in District 2 is prioritized through the Work Program to establish a reasonable budget and schedule for design and construction activities. Typically, project identification, funding and construction is a multi-year process.
What does it mean that a project is considered a "candidate"?
The FDOT Work Program is refined daily to balance each District’s budget in compliance with the annual budget. New projects under consideration for future fiscal year funding are identified as candidate projects on a yearly basis. As a candidate project, projects are evaluated and weighted against all District needs to determine priorities for funding. Once a candidate project achieves the needed requirements for funding the project is slotted for design and construction in future fiscal years. Candidate projects must then become adopted to become programmed and funded projects. Once adopted, projects are reviewed and schedules are fixed for design and construction.
How are landscaping budgets developed?
Landscape budgets are developed on a case by case basis. If the project is located in a higher priority location the Department will most likely recommend that a project be a BOLD project and utilize larger materials. The Department has executed BOLD projects since 2013 and have found that these materials are advantageous to the Department. Not only do the larger materials look more dramatic but have a better survival rate during construction than smaller materials.
Wouldn’t smaller landscaping trees be easier to establish?
Not necessarily. While smaller materials use less water we have found that this can be an issue contractually. Since we primarily execute low bid contracts, it may be to the contractor’s advantage not to bid heavily on establishment items such as water for smaller materials. While the Department contractually requires materials that decline to be replaced, a contractor always has the option to simply replace smaller trees if deemed unacceptable. Replacing trees during the establishment period has its own complications. This approach shortens the establishment period for this plant and most likely will not receive sufficient water as well. Conversely, when using BOLD materials we have found that contractors are less likely to wager on the larger materials because they cannot afford the financial impact of replacing trees. It is more economical to water the materials correctly in the first place.
How long does it take to get a landscaping project built?
In general, it can take anywhere from 2-5 years to completely process a project our Work Program depending upon the complexity of any given project. In some cases it may take longer.
How long does it take to design a landscape project?
This depends upon the complexity and public involvement of a project. Complex projects (such as urban interstate interchanges) may take up to 24 months to design. By statute the Department only hires Registered Landscape Architects to design state landscape projects. Time is allocated to negotiate contracts, inventory locations, survey station points, coordinate with utilities, research past and future nearby projects, develop programmatic concepts, meet with stakeholders, prepare initial design, meet with Department, respond to review comments, refine design, respond to secondary review comments and prepare the final design. If a project is considered high profile with considerable public interest this too can add months to design.
Will there be a public meeting for every landscaping project?
No. Not all projects have the same level of interest or require the same level of public involvement. The Department cannot reasonably be expected to meet on each and every project. However the FDOTree Program does plan occasional meetings with interested community stakeholders to provide an update on the current projects within the Work Program. These meetings are proposed to serve as a source of communication between the Department and the community for upcoming landscaping projects.
How can my voice be heard? I have design ideas.
Comments may be sent directly to our website for FDOTree review and consideration. Please note that while you may have a good idea it must be understood that there is no guarantee that outside recommendations will be implemented. Landscaping is subjective and we do not intend to design projects by committee. Not only do we have to budgets and schedules to maintain, it does not service our designer to expose themselves professionally. All design consultants are liable from a legal standpoint and they are not contractually obliged to consent to outside influences. None of our roadway engineering is designed by outside volunteers. Neither is our drainage, structures or lighting contracts. Please understand, the Department must consider numerous factors when designing landscaping projects. While we welcome public input we will not pursue design approval from independent stakeholders.
How long does it take to physically construct a landscaping project?
This depends upon the complexity, scope and location of the project but on average most projects range from 6 to 12 months.