Last Modified: November 09, 2006

"Thoughts and discussions about Context Sensitive Design (CSD) started at WisDOT in the spring of 1998. In 1999 representatives from WisDOT attended national meetings that discussed CSD. In the fall of 1999 WisDOT held its first internal meeting on aesthetics and local cost share issues, which were a forerunner of WisDOT's CSD program. The first WisDOT CSD meeting was held on July 25, 2000. Formal establishment of WisDOT's CSD program was December 2002, with the distribution of revisions dealing with CSD in the Facilities Development Manual (WisDOT's highway design manual). One of the first activities in implementing CSD was providing formal CSD training in the fall of 2002 and winter of 2003. The training was provided to WisDOT staff, consultants and local units of government. Total number trained was 500.

The outcomes (goals) of the WisDOT's Community Sensitive Design Program are as follows:

  • The project satisfies the purpose and needs for the full range of stakeholders. This agreement is forged in the earliest phase of project planning or project development and amended as warranted as the project develops.
  • The project is a safe facility both for the user and the community
  • The project is in harmony with the community and preserves environmental, scenic, aesthetic, historic and natural resource values of the area.
  • The project exceeds the expectations of both designers and stakeholders, and achieves a level of excellence in people's minds.
  • The project involves an efficient and effective use of resources (time, budget, community).
  • The project is designed and built with minimal disruption to the community.
  • The project adds lasting value to the community.

Because projects can take years to complete, as of February 2004 WisDOT has not completed any projects using the CSD process. We expect that we would see our first projects completed in 2006."

CSS Contact:

Beth Cannestra P.E.
Chief Roadway Development Engineer
Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT)
4802 Sheboygan Ave., RM 650
PO Box 7965
Madison, WI 53707-7965

DOT Website:

Policies & Legislation:
  • CSD Policy(2001)
    • "We will conceive, scope, design and build projects that incorporate design standards, safety measures, environmental stewardship, aesthetics and community sensitive planning and design.
    • Consider the needs of all road users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and neighbors such as residents, and businesses, as well as drivers.
    • Transportation both shapes the growth of our communities and affects the quality of life statewide, so all future NJDOT projects will strive to improve the overall quality of life in our state; mobility and safety is just part of that picture."
  • Proactive Roadway Design Policy (2001)
    • "Our designs should result in motorists driving freeways like freeways, arterials like arterials, collectors like collectors, and local streets like local streets;
    • Designer may include elements that encourage drivers to slow down to speeds appropriate to local conditions; yes this includes traffic calming (below 35 MPH).
    • Our designs can no longer simply rely on local enforcement to get drivers to behave appropriately."
Other Public Involvement Techniques:
WisDOT is in the process of updating its Facilities Development Manual to reflect CSD/CSS principles and practices. The chapter on public involvement is one that is being updated and additional information on techniques will be added. It is anticipated that additional training of project managers will be needed, and provided, so that they are more comfortable with the increased level of public participation and to learn new techniques. One change is that an additional meeting with the public will take place between planning and project scoping. Our project managers will inform the public that WisDOT has identified a transportation need in their area, and ask for their opinion of that need.
CSS Projects (in addition to those listed as Case Studies on this site):
  • Marquette Interchange, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Claude Allouez Bridge, De Pere, Wisconsin
CSS Training:
  • 500 Trained: Project Development staff, Consultants, Local units of Government
  • Training by consultant Short Elliott Hendrickson
CSS Manuals:
Last Modified: November 09, 2006

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