Last Modified: December 03, 2008

Our program has in the past and continues to spread the word on Context Sensitive Solutions through "Overview and Awareness" presentations. Many of the principles and practices of Context Sensitive Solutions have been in use and evolving in PA, like many other states, for quite some time. Overview and awareness presentations have been developed in Power Point and a 45-minute video. These presentations are designed to:
• Define CSS
• Discuss the goals and qualities of CSS
• Illustrate the tools available to the design community for flexibility in transportation project development
• Show example Pennsylvania projects where CSS principles and practices have been implemented

The video is targeted to the Department’s design community. The Power Point presentations have been used in conferences, workshops, and roundtables with various professional organizations including Preservation Pennsylvania, Consultant Engineers’ Council, and The Pennsylvania Planning Association, just to name a few. A version of the presentation can be viewed at Click on Welcome and scroll to Quality Communities Programs at PENNDOT.

Hard copies of the following are available upon request:
• CSS Training Workbook
• Community Impact Assessment Policy/Guidance, Strike Off Letter 438-03-04
• Excellent Transportation Design Qualities, Context Sensitive Design, Strike Off Letter 470-98-71
• Overview and awareness Power Point presentations can be adapted for target audiences.

CSS Contact:

Daniel B. Stewart, P.E.
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PENNDOT)
(717) 787-5023

DOT Website:

Policies & Legislation:
PENNDOT issued a policy letter December 15, 1998, that encouraged the incorporation of Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) principles, practices, and philosophy into the transportation project development processes. A directive was issued April 2, 2002, making CSS training mandatory for those directly involved in the Transportation Project Development Processes. An updated policy statement in support of PENNDOT’s Quality of Life Strategic Focus Area is under development.
Other Public Involvement Techniques:

The Department published the Public Involvement Handbook, Publication Number 295 in 1995. The guidance provided by this publication is still very applicable to today’s CSS environment.

The implementation of Community or Citizen Advisory Committees (CACs) has become a common practice on many of our moderately complex and complex projects. Planning funds have been made available for communities to develop community plans and visions to program future transportation projects.

Other Documents:

Pennsylvania's Guide to Context Sensitive Solutions is an online tool that summarizes PennDOT's approach to CSS, as well as highlights key CSS projects.

A Community Context Audit Form (CCAF) was developed to compliment our training efforts as a tool to help define the context of a project area or region. We are currently assessing how best to integrate the CCAF into the Project Development Process. Drafts of the form have been distributed to our planning partners for review and comment. The CCAF has been received enthusiastically by the planning community and is seen as an effective tool for bridging between the planning process and the design process.

CSS Projects (in addition to those listed as Case Studies on this site):

• Danville Riverside Bridge Replacement and Cut and Cover: Historic and Community impacts; major project with Design Advisory Committee.
• Interstate 83, Exits 14 and 15: Realignment/relocation of mainline and 2 exits; CAC involved from consultant selection through Final Design; special design center open to the public.
• Warriors Mark Bridge Replacement: Moderately complex; aesthetics, historic district, native trout stream, primary school bus route; Environmental Stewardship Award.
• Annville Borough Main Street: Moderately complex roadway rehabilitation, traffic signal upgrade, streetscape; community coordination, funding mix.
• Germantown Avenue Bridge Replacement: Moderately complex; CAC (Coalition of Bridge Neighbors); 2 historic districts, aesthetics, traffic calming.
• PA Route 74, Dillsburg: “Minor” resurfacing/reconstruction; public and public official coordination; traffic control for business survival; unique curb/step design.
• Others: The eleven PENNDOT Engineering Districts are submitting from 3 to 5 candidate projects for placement on the CSS website. This is to be completed this winter.

CSS Training:
The primary focus of our initiative currently is to provide training to Department staff and our planning and design partners. During 2002 and 2003 we held seventeen three-day training sessions attended by approximately 450 participants. Our training is held regionally in order to consider geo-political differences and to make attendance more convenient to PENNDOT District personnel, local consultants, and planning partners. The training sessions are conducted by our consultant team of Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson; McCormick, Taylor & Associates; Vollmer Associates, as well as PENNDOT Staff. The training is targeted to the following audience:
• Highway and Bridge Designers, both Department and consultant
• Traffic Engineers
• Environmental professionals
• Planners; Department, Local government, MPOs, LDDs
• Highway maintenance managers and decision makers
• Construction managers

The course is designed to enhance the transportation project development process for non-complex, moderately complex, betterment, bridge replacement and maintenance projects. The course provides tools, techniques, and activities building skills in the area of flexible design using CSS. Participants gain an understanding of what CSS is and how these solutions are a result of applying flexible design standards along with input from the community throughout the project development process. The course includes defining CSS, place making and environmental and engineering scoping in the context of the community, community consensus building through continuous community/public involvement, visualization techniques, flexibility in design standards and criteria, construction cost and maintenance, tort liability and funding options. Highlights of the course include design team case study development that includes field views and role-playing.

The objectives of this course are to:
• Increase knowledge of the planning and programming phases of project development with a focus on designing context sensitive solutions. Understand funding options that promote implementation of CSS.
• Promote understanding of flexible design and how to apply design standards that result in context sensitive solutions.
• Increase understanding of the scoping process and how to incorporate a community context audit for a transportation project.
• Learn how to involve the community/public and build community consensus throughout in the project development process.
• Identify construction and maintenance costs and considerations associated with context sensitive solutions.
• Stimulate discussion on tort liability so as to gain a better understanding of who is at risk and how to document design exceptions and flexible design standards.

CSS Manuals:
Web accessible at Go to General Information, then Publications, then PENNDOT Publications & Maps:
• Public Involvement Handbook, Pub No. 295
• Needs Study Handbook, Pub No. 319
• Design Manual Part 1, Pub No. 10
• Design Manual Part 1A, Pub No. 10A
• Getting Involved (brochure), Pub No. 304
• Traffic Calming Handbook, Pub No. 383

Last Modified: December 03, 2008

Feedback, questions, comments, or problems?

Copyright © 2005 Context Sensitive All rights reserved.
About Us | Site Map | Privacy Policy

United States Department of Transportation - logo
Privacy Policy | Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) | Accessibility | Web Policies & Notices | No Fear Act | Report Waste, Fraud and Abuse | U.S. DOT Home | |

Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000