Last Modified: January 04, 2013

North Carolina's CSS approach consists of changing paradigms, from one of "altering the natural & human environment to accept the transportation infrastructure" to one of "altering the transportation infrastructure to more readily blend into the natural and human environment." NCDOT's CSS program emphasizes three guiding principles: to address the transportation need, be an asset to the community, and to be compatible with the natural and human environment.

The CSS concept was initially embraced by North Carolina in the fall of 2002 and the CSS training program began in February 2003. CSS principles were being widely used and discussed within NCDOT prior to 2002, but not under the guidelines and training that were formally implemented in 2003. Throughout 2003 and 2004, the CSS training course was offered twice monthly, training over1500 participants. Participants included NCDOT employees (from all functional areas and throughout the state), NC Federal Highway Administration employees, local government staff, private engineering firms, resource agencies, MPOs, and RPOs. In 2005, the training course is scheduled to occur once monthly.

CSS Contact:

Julie Hunkins
Director, Office of Environmental Quality
North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT)

DOT Website:

Policies & Legislation:
Although there is no "official" legislation, executive order, or policy that institutionalizes CSS in North Carolina, NCDOT has adopted a guidance document for DOT employees that identifies the purpose and goals of their CSS program.

NCDOT Context Senstitive Solutions: Goals and Working Guidelines. The purpose of this document is to outline NCDOT's CSS goals and to provide a framework to implement the Context Sensitive Solutions training. NCDOT's ultimate goal is to build an infrastructure than provides safe and effective transportation while preserving and enhancing where possible the natural and human environment.
Other Public Involvement Techniques:
Beyond standard notice and comment requirements for public involvement, NCDOT holds stakeholder involvement meetings using the "clean slate" approach. More and more of NCDOT's "sensitive" projects are using this method to gather the needs of the stakeholders prior to providing them with our design concepts. NCDOT seeks first to understand stakeholders' needs in an effort to make it easier for stakeholders to understand theirs.
Other Documents:
Context Sensitive Solutions: A Better Way, the CSS course that CTE developed for the North Carolina Department of Transportation, is distinctive in both its range and depth. Course materials cover CSS approaches and tools from transportation planning, project development and design, on through to right of way, construction, operations and maintenance. Special emphasis is placed on defining "quality of life," which is critical to understanding context. This presentation is a brief introduction to CTE's CSS training course.

Context Senstive Solutions and Transportation Decision Making. This presentation by NCSU-CTE introduces the relationship between CSS principles and transportation decision making.
CSS Projects (in addition to those listed as Case Studies on this site):
Hillsborough Street: CSS in North Carolina. This PowerPoint presentation depicts the css planning, design and construction of Hillsborough Street by NCDOT.

Grassy Creek Bridge: CSS in NC. This PowerPoint presentation depicts the css planning, design and construction of Grassy Creek Bridge by NCDOT.
CSS Training:
Throughout 2003 and 2004, NCDOT offered a CSS training course twice monthly, training over1500 participants including NCDOT employees (from all functional areas throughout the state including planning, design, R/W, construction and maintenance) and NC Federal Highway Administration employees as well as approximately 200 from local governments, private engineering firms, universities, resource agencies, MPOs, and RPOs. In 2005, NCDOT will offer training once a month. They anticipate that 500-700 additional employees/partners will be trained in 2005-2006.

NC's CSS training course is funded and administered by NCDOT but is delivered by the Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE) at NCSU using various instructors. NCSU-CTE's instructors are diverse professionals with direct experience in the specific class modules. The training is a three-day course (21 professional development hours) with an intense agenda that includes lectures, role-playing exercises, and hands on discussion activities. For more information on CTE's training course, visit or contact Leigh Lane, CSS Training Coordinator, NCSU-CTE, (919) 515-8041.
CSS Manuals:
As part of the training course, a 300-page manual is presented to participants as an additional CSS resource. The manual includes all course material and provides further resources on CSS techniques for different functional areas (planning, design, maintenance, etc.), legal benefits, environmental considerations, and transportation decision-making, to name a few. For more information on this manual, contact NCDOT.

Best Management Practices for Construction and Maintenance. This manual includes the necessary information for the Department to perform essential activities while minimizing their impacts on jurisdictional areas during normal construction, maintenance, and emergency repair situations. This manual is printed on hard stock paper and bound for use in the field. It is also available for download at

Coming soon: NCDOT is currently beginning the creation of an Aesthetics Manual with a training component to complement the CSS program. This manual will provide guidelines and "how to" for the planning, design, and implementation of all roadside aesthetic elements for CSS solutions. For more information, contact NCDOT.
Last Modified: January 04, 2013

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