Last Modified: December 02, 2008

NYSDOT initiated a Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) Implementation Team in February 1999. The Implementation Team is made up of staff from various Bureaus within the Design Division and includes a member from FHWA. A Statewide Implementation Team, formed later in 1999, includes a representative from other Divisions and Offices in NYSDOT as well as each of our 11 Regions. Regional CSS representative serve as champions for CSS implementation. Both Teams remain operational today.

In 1999, a statewide CSS conference and workshop was held with Executive and High Level Management to kick-off CSS implementation. Tom Warne, Utah DOT and President of AASHTO, was the keynote speaker and presided over the workshop.

A CSS Implementation Plan was prepared in 1999. The Implementation Plan identified critical actions and time frames for completion. The Implementation Plan has been completed. Continued Implementation actions are ongoing as they emerge relative to our Department's transformation.

A CSS Training Plan was prepared in 2000. The Training Plan identified training courses, costs, potential training providers, and time schedules for completion. Also, a CD was prepared as a case study example. The Training plan and goals have been completed. Continued training opportunities are ongoing.

Other important actions that were taken to implement CSS as the way we do business include: A CSS Policy Document, Engineering Instruction 01-020, was prepared in 2001; revisions to the Department's Project Development Manual incorporating CSS principles and guidance throughout project development:

  • A Department CSS web site was created in 2001;
  • Bi-annual CSS Conferences are held with the Statewide Team, executive management and invited guest speakers such as Greg Albright, CALTRANS;
  • PowerPoint Presentations were prepared for the general public, Engineers week, NYS Quality Communities Conference, Landscape Architects Annual Meeting, and HEEP;
  • In 2003, at the NYSDOT-hosted NASTO conference, a CSS information booth was prepared and a CSS Implementation Panel Session was held with distinguished panelists that included:
    • Bob Arnold, New York Division Administrator, FHWA (moderator)
    • Phil Clark, Director, Design Division, Office of Engineering, NYSDOT
    • Tim Neuman, CH2MHILL
    • Neil Pedersen, Office of the Administrator, Maryland SHA
    • Tom Warne, Tom Warne and Associates, LLC

CSS performance measurement is being addressed in NYSDOT's Transformation effort by incorporating CSS measures within identified Priority Results Areas.

Lastly, we have initiated CSS awards to celebrate significant Regional successes. Each year, the 11 Regional CSS Project Award submissions are compiled into a portfolio for wide distribution. Of the 11 best regional CSS project submissions, an award is given to the exemplary CSS project and a plaque is awarded to the Region during the Annual Excellence in Engineering Awards ceremony. CSS pins are awarded to all regional project entry participants.

Goal #1- NYSDOT is recognized and valued by its stakeholders and customers as a partner that strives to plan, create and maintain transportation facilities that respond to the unique conditions and considerations of every context.

Goal #2 - Implement and promote early and continuous Public Involvement in the Project Development Process. For more information see

Regarding projects, we consider all projects to be context sensitive. CSS is all about fully understanding the context of the project area and its environs, and then exploring and discovering what the best solution is. If CSS is not approached with that mind set we believe opportunities to fit the project to its context, even simple projects, will potentially be overlooked.

CSS Contact:

Nancy Alexander, Senior Landscape Architect 
Design Quality Assurance Bureau 
New York State Deparment of Transportation
(518) 457-8316

DOT Website:

CSS Website:

Policies & Legislation:
NYSDOT Engineering Instruction 01-020
Other Public Involvement Techniques:

Our CSS Policy requires every project to have a Public involvement plan prepared by the project development team. PI plans reflect the level of potential sensitivities and complexity of a planned project or program. Guidance on process and techniques has been prepared with the recent publication of the NYSDOT Public Involvement Manual. The manual includes policy and an appendix describing of full range of possible PI techniques to use.

NYSDOT also uses a full range of progressive visualization and technical media techniques from photo-simulations to real-time simulation and multi-media interactive wed content. A web site has been developed for internal information, examples and guidance.

Other activities include ongoing PI training; and an SPR research program for PI Methods and Techniques to be initiated in Spring, 2004. The SPR research program will concentrate on a department wide public involvement applications.

Other Documents:
  • We have several PowerPoint slideshows available that have been presented several times at various meetings, conferences and annual professional symposiums.
  • The Public Involvement Manual
  • The Scoping and Design Procedures Manual is being revised to reflect CSS principles and approaches. Some chapters are complete, others are being revised and are in the review and comment stage.
  • We prepared semi-annual status reports on CSS.
  • We prepared a CD called ‘Edgewater’ for CSS context identification and application purposes (available on-line).
  • Edgewater Exercise 1A is a case study exercise for a non-DOT audience that deals with project stakeholders and conflicting values. Regions are encouraged to conduct their own sessions. All materials and instructions for the workshop are downloadable.
  • Edgewater Exercise 2 is aimed at an internal DOT audience. Participants identify both internal and external stakeholders, concentrating on the communication and partnership within the Department that will help to resolve stakeholder issues. Regions are encouraged to conduct their own sessions. All materials and instructions for the workshop are downloadable.
  • Visualization and Technical Media applications and examples
  • We have lapel pins with our NYSDOT CSS logo for distribution and sharing with advocates and leaders in CSS principles and goals as tokens of effort and reward for work well done.
CSS Projects (in addition to those listed as Case Studies on this site):

Since 2000, as a means to celebrate our successes and showcase the best CSS project examples from all 11 Regions, we initiated an ‘Exemplary CSS Project Award.’ The award is presented at the annual Excellence in Engineering awards with the winner of the exemplary project receiving a large plaque. The award has been very successful in calling attention to CSS principles and approaches as we strive to achieve our goals stated above.

Each year we publish the awards entries in a bound portfolio and on our Departmental web site to further celebrate and acknowledge all of the projects nominated by the Regions. The criteria for the award can be used for performance measurement purposes similar to the criteria used for the Baldrige Award for quality. Please review the projects on-line. The Region awarded the Exemplary CSS Project is asked to present the project at an annual meeting. The 2004 award was presented with the establishment of 2 categories: (1) over 5 million construction value and (2) under 5 million construction value.

Along with the Exemplary CSS Project Award we also initiated an excellence in Public involvement Award which is also presented at the annual Excellence in Engineering awards. All nominated projects since 2000 can be viewed on-line.

CSS Training:
Staff from all areas within NYSDOT, FHWA, resource Agencies, local government officials and various citizen groups have been trained. To date, about 450 have been trained. This training began with executive management workshop/training with an initial conference held in 1999 with Tom Warne UDOT as the keynote speaker and moderator presiding over the workshop. Various consultants such as: Project for Public Spaces; Kentucky Transportation Center; NHI; and CH2MHILL have provided training.
Last Modified: December 02, 2008

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