ConnDOT's CSS program was one of six pilot programs started in 1999. The continued goals of the program are to encourage innovation in all phases of the project development process and to foster the use of timely, meaningful public involvement with careful consideration to the human and natural environment.
ConnDOT's dedication to developing all projects with CSS principles in mind evolved prior to there being a formal definition of CSS. More and more communities throughout Connecticut began resisting negative changes in the rural character of their towns and cities, so CSS became a necessity.
ConnDOT realized right off the bat that in order to institutionalize the CSS process throughout all phases of the project development process, it needed buy-in from the leadership of the Department, as well as the industry. It started out by forming an Internal Leadership Team of senior managers from the Department and FHWA and an External Advisory Team with representatives from various stakeholder groups. These were formed to give general guidance in the development of our training and to start spreading the word on this initiative.
ConnDOT then held an Executive Level Workshop that targeted the Departments Management, CEO's of Consulting and Contracting firms, and representatives from various Special Interest Groups and Resource Agencies. The focus here was on identifying policies, procedures and best practices that promote CSS. They used case studies to examine our project development process and develop recommendations for implementation approaches.
Next, ConnDOT held 3 statewide workshops that targeted Department and Federal Highway staff, regional planning agencies, municipalities, resource agencies and special interest groups. These workshops were important because they not only gathered feedback, but they gave us the opportunity to speak to representatives from cities and towns throughout the State to explain their role in the process. One aspect that's critical to its success is for people to understand that there's an obligation on their part to support the determinations made during the development of a project so that it can continue on to completion without backtracking.
After the statewide workshops, ConnDOT held a 2-day conference for the other states in the Northeast, and Canadian Provinces to share our experiences in trying to institutionalize this approach and to gather more input for our training program.
From all the information gathered at the workshops, and research from other States trying to institutionalize this approach, ConnDOT developed a class, using the University of Connecticut's Technology Transfer Center. The goal of this class is to help give Connecticut stakeholders a better understanding of what's involved in the CSS approach. It starts off with the history of CSS and what it is. There's a section on the various techniques that can be used and the challenges involved with these. A portion of the day is spent on case studies so people can relate techniques to real projects. There's a section that deals with our project development process so people can get an understanding of the phases a project goes through and the funding issues involved with each phase. And one of the most important sections of this class explains the thought process of design and where standards come from. It goes into how design criteria is established for different roads and the risk assessment that needs to be done in order for us to know how flexible we can be with a design.
Mariano Merrero Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) 2800 Berlin Turnpike Newington, CT 06131-7546 860-594-3481 email@example.com
An administrative memo was released in 2002 to institutionalize the CSS approach throughout ConnDOT to ensure a seamless transition from planning and highway design to the construction and maintenance activities.
Other Public Involvement Techniques:
ConnDOT typically holds an early pre-design (either during the concept stage or early during formal design) public informational meeting to gather local input and gauge support while also clarifying purpose, intent, potential cost and scope issues.
Then a public involvement meeting or hearing is held at the 30% or preliminary design stage along with a subsequent 30-day comment period. The meetings are usually noticed in one major and one local newspaper two times in advance of the actual meeting date. These meetings may utilize any or all of the following tools: colored project and/or stage construction plans, aerial photo of the project area with superimposed improvements, PowerPoint presentation, handout with general information and a reduced scale project and location plan, visualization techniques, open house forum, formal presentation followed by a question and answer period.
A key part of any project and a method which we regularly employ is meeting with stakeholders (neighborhood groups, affected property owners, local officials, state officials and concerned citizens) early and throughout the project development process on an as needed (issue driven) basis. These meetings are essential in developing a cooperative working relationship with project stakeholders to ensure effective understanding of project purpose and impact and to garner valuable information from these groups.
The Department is currently exploring placing project information (location, description, plans, and contact people) on our website.