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Purpose and Need/Problem Definition and Project Visioning

The statement of purpose and need under the CSS process is reflective of not only a transportation needs assessment, but also of a statement of environmental values, and community values. In addition to "purpose and need", there are other approaches to broadly identify problems for CSS projects, to create visions, and to establish project goals or criteria, which can later serve as measures for evaluating the project upon its completion.


Identifying the right problems from the beginning is key and it's half the battle. The problem needs to be defined as broadly as possible to address all aspects of the qualities and characteristics of CSS.


The process of Problem Definition can help you to:
  • Facilitate an understanding with communities
  • Provide an opportunity to mobilize a community partnership around place
  • Engage in "non-traditional" activities
  • Construct a "catalytic" process


Excerpt IconExcerpt What does this project need to do for us?
"Ask 'What does this project need to do for us?' The project goals should range across the board and take in many aspects of the CSS context, namely mobility, safety, economic revitalization, creating a sense of place, enhancing transit service, enhancing bike facilities, aesthetics, facilitating pedestrian circulation, etc. Think big at this point and remember that there are no wrong answers. The goals and visions outlined in these brainstorming sessions need to be evaluated in terms of how they may complement or compete with each other. The draft project definition clearly details what you are trying to achieve through a project. Therefore, it can be reviewed and revised by the project stakeholders until consensus is reached."  more...
from  Building Projects that Build Communities: Recommended Best Practices
Excerpt IconExcerpt Problem Definition: Confirming and Refining Problem Definition
Initial project decisions begin with development of a list of the transportation problems to be addressed by a project.... The list of problems can then be transformed into a comprehensive need statement. It is critical for this statement to reflect the full range of public values identified through the public involvement process, and to legitimize all of the affected interests without appearing to favor [or promote] one particular solution.  more...
from  NCHRP Report 480: A Guide to Best Practices for Achieving Context Sensitive Solutions
Excerpt IconExcerpt Problem Definition: Develop Problem Statement
Problems must be stated in terms of underlying causes- they must be framed in a way in which they can be lead to a solution.  more...
from  NCHRP Report 480: A Guide to Best Practices for Achieving Context Sensitive Solutions
Excerpt IconExcerpt Project Development Scoping Phase
"The project development process begins after early planning studies have identified a valid need for a project improvement. Pre-program scoping occurs before a project is actually programmed ... The project scoping phase is the first step in the project development process. It is undertaken to determine what the project should entail and what potential impacts exist." more...
from  Hear Every Voice: A Guide to Public Involvement at Mn/DOT
Excerpt IconExcerpt Problem Definition: Identifying Community Issues and Constraints
When issues that pertain to the project at hand are identified, community outreach should focus on finding out the specific values associated with local context and address these issues. more...
from  NCHRP Report 480: A Guide to Best Practices for Achieving Context Sensitive Solutions
Article Icon Public Involvement Case Study: Trunk Highway 23 Task Force
This public involvement case study looks at how Mn/DOT used public meetings to inform the public of and a task force to involve them in the Trunk Highway 23 project. Includes the reasoning behind using this particular public involvement technique and an analysis of its usefulness.
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