Insights on CSD/CSS

Extended definition of context sensitive design and context sensitive solutions.

The terms Context Sensitive Design and Context Sensitive Solutions refer to an approach or process as much as they do an outcome. What is unique and "groundbreaking" is that CSD/CSS recognizes that road and highway projects are not just the responsibility or concern of engineers and constructors, or for that matter only the responsibility of the DOT or transportation agency. Instead, CSD/CSS calls for the interdisciplinary collaboration of technical professionals, local community interest groups, landowners, facility users, the general public, and essentially any and all stakeholders who will live and work near or use the road. It is through this process and team approach that the owning agency gains an understanding and appreciation of community values and strives to incorporate or address these in the evolution of the project.

CSD/CSS is first and foremost about a transportation agency carrying out its mission - providing for the safety and mobility of the public. CSD/CSS is thus all about completing projects, whether it's freeway reconstruction, major arterial widening, local street improvements, or bicycle path construction. The principles of CSD/CSS ... apply essentially to any transportation project, with the main aim being to assure that the full range of stakeholder values is brought to the table and actively incorporated into the design process and final result (as the project needs are defined).

CSD/CSS begins early, and continues throughout the entire project development process (from project concepts through alternative studies to construction), and indeed, to beyond project completion. CSD/CSS means maintaining commitments to communities.

Much literature, including most notably the publication Flexibility in Highway Design, stresses the importance of being "context sensitive" where a highway runs through or adjacent to parklands, scenic areas, or special environmental areas or viewsheds. While such facilities are clearly of special interest, the notiona of context sensitivity extends beyond these "special" projects.

CSD/CSS applies essentially anywhere and everywhere. That is, every project has a context as defined by the terrain and topography, the community, users, and the surrounding land use. The CSD/CSS approach applies to urban streets, suburban arterials, rural highways, low volume local roads, and high traffic volume freeways. The particular CSS (solution) would depend on the context.

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