CSS Milestones

Milestones in the history of CSS show how the field has evolved beginning in 1969 and gaining momentum in the late 1990s.



The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is passed, requiring transportation agencies to consider adverse impacts of road projects on the environment.



The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) established the National Highway System (NHS) Task Force in December 1988 to look beyond Interstate completion; AASHTO Board of Directors recommended the creation of a National Highway System.



AASHTO adopted the National Highway System Design Standards policy on April 11, 1994, Pittsburgh, PA. The relevant portion of that policy is: BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Member Departments of AASHTO will work through AASHTO's design standards committees with DOT and with interested parties on design criteria and a design process for NHS routes that integrate safety, environmental, scenic, historic, community and preservation concerns, and on standards which also foster access for bicycles and pedestrian traffic along with other transportation modes.



NHS Designation Act was enacted in November 1995. Section 109a of Title 23, United States Code. The relevant portion of that policy is:


Rehabilitation of highway on the National Highway System (other than a highway also on the Interstate System) may take into account [in addition to safety, durability and economy of maintenance and to conform to the particular needs of each locality]... the constructed and natural environment of the area; the environmental, scenic, aesthetic, historic, community, and preservation impacts of the activity; and access for other modes of transportation.


FHWA's Office of Program Administration (HIPA-01) and Office of Environment and Planning (HEP) published Flexibility in Highway Design (FHWA Pub. No. FHWA-PD-97-062).



The Maryland Department of Transportation, State Highway Administration conducted Thinking Beyond the Pavement: National Workshop on Integrating Highway Development with Communities and the Environment While Maintaining Safety and Performance in May 1998. This workshop was co-sponsored by AASHTO and FHWA with the advice and support of the National Workshop Advisory Committee. Find out more about Maryland's Workshop at


Following the national workshop in Maryland, five pilot states were selected: Connecticut, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, and Utah. The pilot states agreed to implement the CSD approach, based on the Qualities and Characteristics that were developed at the Maryland workshop, and to share their experiences with the States within their region.


FHWA Federal Lands Highway joined the five Pilot States.



The American Society of Civil Engineers held the Role of the Civil Engineer conference in June 1999. Over 140 practicing civil engineers gathered in Reston, VA, to participate. The workshop, sponsored by the Highway Division's Environmental Quality Committee, offered civil engineers in the community the opportunity to hear from the nation's leaders on context sensitive design and to participate in active and informative small group discussions.


AASHTO committees began working on four chapters to serve as a “bridging document” between AASHTO's A Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets (The "Green Book") and FHWA's Flexibility in Highway Design.



The Federal Highway Administration, in its Fiscal Year 2003 Performance Plan names "Environmental Stewardship & Streamlining" as one of its three "Vital Few" priorities. Within this priority, the FHWA aims to have the practice of Context Sensitive Solutions in place in all 50 states by 2007.



FHWA and partners launch, the new web-based national resource center.

Website Icon Website The History of Context Sensitive Design (opens in a new window)
"As citizens' expectations for better, safer roads have increased, a growing awareness of communities' needs has also emerged among designers. These two key factors contributed to bringing about this transformation in highway design and construction. Congress, the Federal Highway Administration, governors, State legislatures, and State transportation agencies have all played an integral part in this important evolution of highways. Meanwhile, public interest groups have worked to make developing better methods of highway design a major part of their agendas."
--  Federal Highway Administration
Policy Icon Policy Document Section 109 of Title 23, United States Code
National Highway System (NHS) Designation Act, enacted November 1995

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