CSS is about "open, honest, early and continuous" communication and sharing of information and knowledge - not just professional knowledge, but the knowledge that communities and stakeholders bring to a project from their personal experience. CSS involves structuring a planning, design, and implementation process that is collaborative and creates consensus among stakeholders and the transportation agency.
A multi-disciplinary approach to the project development process allows "the context" to be addressed from the point of view of more than just the transportation function. However, a well executed CSS process does not guarantee excellence in transportation design. The design "product" should should reflect the well crafted combination of the CSS process element and the skilled early input of the designer.
Under CSS, transportation professionals and communities are developing new ways of working together within the traditional transportation project development process. Transportation agencies are also moving beyond the typical "public involvement" approach to create new collaborative partnerships with stakeholder groups.
To oversee a CSS process, project managers need to draw upon diverse skills and professions to analyze problems and develop solutions. They need new project management tools to structure a coordinated "team" approach, and to manage the interdisciplinary team. CSS projects require that transportation professionals play a new role as resources and facilitators for community stakeholders, not just as experts.
Compromising safety, failure to use professional judgment, and similar issues that carry professional liability and that could encourage lawsuits have been constant concerns and companions to all discussions of Context Sensitive Solutions. Yet liability appears to be a manageable issue. Most legal experts agree that context-sensitive solutions will not cause the engineer problems as long as they are well reasoned and comprehensively documented.
Effective techniques for involving all stakeholders allow for meaningful participation and to reach consensus in the decision-making process. By necessity, involvement is inclusive, early and continuous, and tailored to meet the circumstances.
Decision Points The CSD/CSS Project Development Process includes a recommended set of decision points. These points are related to federal requirements under NEPA as well as state and local regulations. more...
NCHRP Report 480: A Guide to Best Practices for Achieving Context Sensitive Solutions