The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has been developing, over many years, methods for involving stakeholders in its decisions, and the CSS policy looks to make this a routine process for important projects. The CSS approach involves stakeholders early and often throughout the process, especially before major decisions are made. The information gained from partnering with stakeholders is then used by IDOT to craft an informed solution to the transportation issue.
CSS is defined by Illinois as an interdisciplinary approach that seeks effective, multimodal transportation solutions by working with stakeholders to develop, build and maintain cost effective transportation facilities which fit into and reflect the projects surroundings, its "context." Through early, frequent and meaningful communication with stakeholders, and a flexible and creative approach to design, the resulting projects should improve safety and mobility for the traveling public, while seeking to preserve and enhance the scenic, economic, historic, and natural qualities of the settings through which they pass.
Illinois has taken significant steps in carrying out CSS. First, pursuant to state law, the Illinois Department of Transportation (Department) adopted its formal CSS policy effective August 1, 2005. This policy applies to all modal divisions within the Department (Highways, Aeronautics, and Public and Intermodal Transportation) as well as to the Office of Planning and Programming. Each of these divisions and offices have developed specific CSS implementation procedures. Ongoing evaluation of the effectiveness of these policies will be taking place in order that timely adjustments can be made to improve the Departments implementation of CSS.
Additionally, in order for CSS to be implemented effectively by the Department, it was determined to be essential that Department personnel, consultants, and local agency partners have a thorough understanding of CSS. Toward that end, the Department developed and is teaching three separate CSS training classes.
The half-day CSS awareness class is an overview class designed to provide an introduction to CSS. The approach class is a two-day class which provides hands-on training of the activities needed to implement CSS on a project. The local agency class is a half-day class similar to the approach class with a focus on local agencies. Each of these classes is being taught throughout the state. IDOT is also in the process of developing an online CSS training course designed to train stakeholders and others about CSS.
In addition, more extensive ongoing training continues for Department staff as well as stakeholders. Included in this training are community impact assessment classes and facilitation training. Further education takes place at the numerous presentations made by Department staff for a wide variety of organizations. IDOT also realizes that communication of its CSS policy both within and outside of IDOT is essential. Internally, IDOT created a CSS sharepoint site. This site is used to coordinate with IDOT employees throughout the state as well as its federal partners.