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Chapter 3
Designing for Environmental Stewardship in Construction & Maintenance
3.2. Context Sensitive Design/Solutions

The Context Sensitive Design (CSD) process, also called Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS), identifies the physical, visual, and social context in which a project is situated. Establishing the existing context is done through observation and analysis along with interviews and discussion. CSD/CSS fosters the use of:

  • Strong stakeholder involvement programs.
  • Collaborative and interdisciplinary approaches to decision-making.
  • Understanding of the aesthetic and other contexts within which transportation occurs.
  • Consideration of human and natural environmental effects of transportation.
  • Selection of design criteria appropriate to a specific project's safety, operational, and environmental needs.

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) defines CSS as "a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach, involving all stakeholders to ensure that transportation projects are in harmony with communities and preserve environmental, scenic, aesthetic, and historic resources while maintaining safety and mobility." [N] In sum, a CSD project is highly responsive to the environmental conditions, both cultural and natural, in which it occurs. The Institute of Transportation Engineers has supported the concept as well, releasing in 2006 a report on Context-Sensitive Solutions in Designing Major Urban Thoroughfares for Walkable Communities. [N]

As noted by the TxDOT/Texas Transportation Institute project, "Guidelines for Aesthetic Design in Highway Corridors: Tools and Treatments for Texas Highways," the goal of aesthetics design in the highway environment is to create a pleasurable experience for the user and a positive contribution to the visual character of the community, while attending to safety and efficiency needs. [N]) This can be approached through visual quality and four related information factors: complexity, coherency, legibility, and anticipation. [N]

Context sensitive solutions also minimize impacts to sensitive areas during design. Ideally, the highway project is planned to fit the particular topography, soils, drainage patterns, and natural vegetation as much as practicable. To this end, designers collect information and/or map surface waters, natural drainage ways, and direction of drainage patterns. Examples of stewardship practices DOTs have taken in design to avoid environmental impacts include:

  • Asymmetrical widening to avoid wetlands, critical slopes, active slide areas, or the locations of endangered plant species.
  • Alignment or profile shifts.
  • Design deviations
  • Installing guardrails to avoid slope flattening that will encroach upon sensitive areas.
  • Building retaining walls to minimize the fill footprint.
  • Minimizing clearing limits to avoid impacting buffers.
  • Reuse of existing bridge abutments to help avoid disturbance to native vegetation and endangered species.
  • Use of materials that blend with the natural setting of the area.
  • Use of timber bridge rail, timber guardrail, and timber handrail in some cases rather than guardrail and concrete barrier walls.

The 1998 State DOT "Thinking Beyond the Pavement Workshop," identified the following recommended actions for states which may be considered practices that achieve environmental stewardship: [N]

  • Adopt Federal language from 23 U.S.C. 109 in their own policies to include environmental, scenic, aesthetic, historic, community, and preservation criteria in projects, along with safety and mobility.
  • Advance the philosophy of context sensitive design in the strategic plans of AASHTO committees.
  • Review procedures, organizational structure, and staffing to encourage and institutionalize context sensitive design.
  • Develop educational programs for staff and consultants that develop the necessary attitudes and skills to carry out context sensitive design, including highway design, communication skills, and process improvements.
  • Provide the tools necessary for context sensitive design, including 3D presentation tools.

AASHTO Environmental Stewardship Demonstration projects highlight success stories in implementation of CSS/CSD initiatives in Kentucky, Utah, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. [N]


3.2.1 State DOT CSD/CSS Policies, Plans, Guidelines, Agreements, Training, and Examples
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State DOTs' increasing interest in and commitment to context sensitive solutions is evident in the resources they have developed (described below) and Executive Orders issued by some DOT secretaries, including those in Michigan and Washington State.

Caltrans' Context Sensitive Design approach implements the Director's Policy on Context Sensitive Solutions and the Deputy Directive on Accommodating Non-Motorized Travel. Caltrans' Highway Design Manual Philosophy and Application of Standards provide for the use of nonstandard design when such use best satisfies the concerns of a given situation through an exception process. Practices and design opportunities for downtown areas are included in the agency's booklet on Main Streets: Flexibility in Design and Operations. Caltrans has also produced internal articles on "Innovation: Context Sensitive Solutions" and Context Sensitive Design PowerPoint Presentation and case studies on U.S. Hwy. 50 Operational Improvements Project in Placerville and The Donner Park Overcrossing.

Connecticut DOT has promoted context sensitive design through statewide awareness training, training courses for its managers, and development of an ongoing training course for engineers through collaboration with the University of Connecticut's Engineering Department. ConnDOT sponsored a regional context sensitive design workshop with CSS leaders and 300 participants from 18 states and the District of Columbia, comprised of 85 percent transportation professionals and with 15 percent representing stakeholder interests outside transportation. An Executive Summary is available on-line. ConnDOT also is utilizing a Connecticut Farm Map in CSD/CSS.

Florida DOT's Public Involvement Handbook, updated in 2003, addresses CSD/CSS issues.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has held extensive training workshops in context sensitive design, geared toward all participants in the project development phases. The Kentucky Transportation Center maintains CSD/CSS case studies, and the KYTC Context Sensitive Design Workshop is available on-line as is Kentucky Streetscape Design Guidelines for Historic Commercial Districts. KYTC's premier CSD/CSS project is the Paris Pike which created a 4 lane road with curvilinear alignment, timber guardrails, grass shoulders, large trees and rock fences retained along roadside, and stone veneer on headwalls and bridges. KYTC stripped, stockpiled, and returned the silt loam topsoil to its original thickness after grade and drain work was completed.

The Maryland State Highway Administration developed a "Thinking Beyond the Pavement" strategic plan to guide CSD/CSS implementation, conducted charettes to identify project development process strengths, designed a project evaluation instrument, and established teams to review and implement project improvement strategies. MDSHA developed a process to move beyond a " traditional" engineering approach to transportation projects and developed a new means of roadway improvement design that captures the broader effects of transportation safety and mobility decisions on 1) specific community needs, 2) on the land use decisions that are likely to follow, and 3) the cumulative impact on air/water quality and quality of life. The result of this mission was a new planning/design process subsequently used in scores of projects and communities and published in When Main Street is a State Highway. MDSHA replaced what they called a " cookie-cutter" approach to roadway design work with a method that better reflected each community's unique character and living environment. Participating communities are given a clear understanding of the choices involved and the information necessary to make effective, long-term decisions. The approach has now been used in over 50 constructed projects and no project has had to be redesigned because of opposition or lack of understanding for its need.

The process has also formed the basis for organization-wide training whereby highway engineers have been empowered to go beyond "standards-driven" design solutions. MDSHA has been called upon to deliver training using this approach to other DOTs and to partners in Architecture, Planning, Urban Design and Historic Preservation nationally. MDSHA has developed an internal orientation course for CSD/CSS and MSHA's project development process, a Resource/Reference Guide for project managers, introductory and advanced-level project management courses, and advanced level, topic-specific project management courses, as well as a support system for project managers that include mentors and other resources.

In support of CSS/CSD and the governor's Smart Growth Initiative, MDSHA's Neighborhood Conservation Program (NCP) provides funding for projects that stimulate growth and investment in older communities. The NCP projects are initiated by a community contact to MDSHA requesting assistance in addressing traffic issues with regard to pedestrians, transit riders, bicyclists and motorists. The program gives priority to improvements along state highways located within designated neighborhoods and part of Priority Funding Areas where the improvement will ignite economic growth, contribute to other revitalization efforts and promote neighborhood conservation. A key component of the NCP is total participation throughout the process by the affected community. The community and MDSHA form a partnership to gather information, define the concerns to be addressed through the project, and then create viable alternatives. MDSHA provides the technical expertise while community representatives assure that the functioning needs of the town are met through design plans and implementation. Working together, the team develops plans for improvement that will create more livable, convenient and enjoyable communities. More than $124 million is funded for NCP projects through fiscal year 2006 for improvements such as roadway reconstruction, roadway signing, lighting and traffic controls, constructing curb and gutter, sidewalks and transit shelters, improvements to existing storm drainage lines, streetscape design, and pedestrian and bicycle accommodations and safety. [N]

Mn/DOT's policy is to use a "Context Sensitive" approach to create excellence in transportation project development - an approach that incorporates design standards, safety measures, environmental stewardship, aesthetics, and community sensitive planning and design. Mn/DOT Technical Memorandum No. 00-24-TS-03 outlines the department's commitment to CSD. Mn/DOT is incorporating context sensitive design into all aspects of transportation project development - planning, design, construction, and operations through new policies, extensive research, and training programs. Mn/DOT has developed many implementation resources, including the use of visualization technologies to support CSD. Mn/DOT produced Context Sensitive Design, the Road Best Traveled and an Executive Summary that serves as a good introduction to CSD principles and design practices. Also, Mn/DOT's entire CSD/CSS workshop is available on-line, addressing CSS issues in sessions as follows:

One of Mn/DOT's premier CSD/CSS examples is the 47-mile Minnesota Highway 38 Edge of the Wilderness National Scenic Byway, which offers a winding route around lakes and wetlands. The project involved partnerships with federal, state and local parties to guide the design process. More than 90 percent of the highway would have been altered to increase the design speed to 55 miles per hour, which would have required some cut and fills over 25 feet high and clearing limits as great as 190 feet. It was agreed that the existing horizontal and vertical alignment would be maintained as much as possible unless spot upgrading could significantly improve safety. Six foot paved shoulders with a continuous rumble strip to lessen the roadway footprint on the land, and guardrails occasionally extended to further protect in-place resources. Additional design flexibility included shallow ditch bottoms at higher vertical alignment points and increasing the back-slope steepness to minimize vegetation and visual impacts. Special care was taken to choose appropriate native turf establishment. Roadside maintenance practices have encouraged the re-establishment of native vegetation. Under the direction of a Leadership Board, the corridor continues to be maintained, redesigned, and reconstructed following best-practice environmental design principles.

A recently completed University of Minnesota research project, entitled Attributes and Amenities of Minnesota's Highway Systems that are Important to Tourists, studied eleven scenic byways in Minnesota, including Highway 38. The research examined user preferences for physical characteristics, aesthetics, and amenities of each roadway segment. Early focus groups provided a framework for the study and results revealed that road travelers are able to differentiate between physical and socially derived attributes and amenities, roads do have strong character and can strongly influence user trip satisfaction. [N]

The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) and the Western Transportation Institute hosted a Context Sensitive Design Workshop with attendees from 38 states and South Africa. MDT's premier CSS project is Highway 93, which will include 42 wildlife crossings, including culverts, bridges, and two overpasses. The Memorandum of Agreement (US Highway 93 from Evaro to Polson) MTDOT, FHWA, and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes is available on-line.

Utah committed to a culture change process as part of implementing Context Sensitive Solutions at UDOT. The effort is focused on addressing the transportation need and being an asset to the community that is compatible with the natural and built environment. UDOT provides guidance for implementing these principles on their website. The initiative has focused on community outreach and project development and includes assessment of stakeholder attitudes and internal practices, an implementation and staff training plan, and post-implementation assessment. UDOT also created a Directorate position for Context Sensitive Solutions, to provide leadership and coordination for the agency's CSS Program. Other position responsibilities include development of long-range plans for the CSS Program.

Nevada's Governor stated "because [highways] affect our ecosystems and the way our neighborhoods and places of business connect to each other, they influence the quality of life of every citizen in the state;" in response Nevada DOT (NDOT) developed a Pattern and Palette of Place: A Landscape and Aesthetic Master Plan for the Nevada State Highway System that provides guidance for aesthetic treatments for city streets, rural roads, gateways, rest areas, and various other circumstances. In many cases it also provides guidance through examples of various levels of aesthetic treatments, from no cost to high cost. The document also discusses the process of developing a project that is aesthetically pleasing and fits into the context of its environment.

New Jersey DOT has implemented a training program for highway engineers and other transportation professionals, along with stakeholders in New Jersey host communities, to ensure Context Sensitive Design Awareness in New Jersey. This program emphasizes the use of effective public involvement techniques, implementation of design flexibility, and the concept and importance of "Placemaking." NJDOT's premier CSD/CSS project is Route 35 Coopers Bridge over the Navesink River between Red Bank and Middletown, which was dedicated in 2000 after five years of planning and redesign by a partnership between the communities and NJDOT.

New York DOT gives internal awards for Context Sensitive Solutions. The agency's philosophy aims for projects that are in harmony with the social and natural environment and community needs, and show measurable success in improving the community's environmental, scenic, aesthetic, historic, and natural resources, above and beyond mitigation requirements. To that end, NYSDOT has developed a number of resources to implement CSD/CSS including: NYSDOT Engineering Instruction 01-020, NYSDOT CSS Implementation Plan, and a review of Context Sensitive Solutions in New York Construction News. NYSDOT also provides its staff a Place Audit: An Assessment Exercise from the Project for Public Spaces to help assess a site's current and potential performance.

North Carolina DOT worked with the Center for Transportation and the Environment to develop CSD/CSS Presentations used in training NCDOT engineers and project managers. Also, the University of North Carolina Highway Research Center developed a document entitled Visualization: Guidance for the Project Engineer , which provides an overview of visualization capabilities and techniques, a discussion of cost benefits and development time, and a survey of the state-of-practice of state DOT visualization techniques.

Oregon DOT developed CSD/CSS guidelines for Historic Downtown Main Streets: Strategies for Compatible Streetscape Design. The Portland, Oregon Traffic Calming Program is also available on-line. Context sensitive design guidance for natural resources is under development; ODOT plans to apply such practices and standards programmatically in rehabilitation of Oregon bridges.

Texas DOT developed a Landscape and Aesthetic Design Manual, which provides in-depth information and guidance on landscape and aesthetic design and includes details about selecting and using specific aesthetic treatments, as well as design planning and evaluation for common structural elements as well as common transportation features like interchanges, highway corridors, entrance and exit ramps, and more. Complimenting the Landscapes and Aesthetic Design Manual, TxDOT and the Texas Transportation Institute developed Guidelines for Aesthetic Design in Highway Corridors: Tools and Treatments for Texas Highways, a reference to assist TxDOT designers and consultants in selecting and specifying appropriate aesthetic treatments for transportation projects. The project developed Technical Data Descriptions with fundamental information about the character, advantages, disadvantages, costs, and maintenance implications of aesthetic treatments or elements designers may consider for use on highway projects. The aesthetic treatments or elements addressed in the Technical Data Descriptions include: [N]

Example 4 : Aesthetic Treatments Discussed in TxDOT Guidelines for Aesthetic Design - Site Amenities & Public Art

Concrete (Poured-in-Place) - Coatings and Coloring

  • Sealer Stains
  • Acid Stains
  • Integral Color
  • Color-Hardened Concrete
  • Thin-Set Surface Coatings

Concrete (Poured-in-Place) - Textures

  • Sandblasting
  • Colored, textured Concrete
  • Form Liner Finishes


  • Brick and Stone
  • Tile

Concrete (Modular) - Walls

  • Concrete Masonry Units
  • Modular Block


  • Brick and Concrete Pavers

Traffic Barriers

  • Movable Concrete
  • Interior Planter Support System

Asphalt - Textures

  • Patterned Asphalt

Asphalt - Color

  • Surface-Coated
  • Integral Color

Pedestrian Barriers

  • Railings
  • Fences


  • Accent Lighting
  • Fiber-Optic Lighting
  • Specialty Street Lighting

VTrans or the Vermont Transportation Agency has focused the agency's CSD/CSS efforts on Historic Bridge Program, Danville Project, the Shelburne Road Project, and Vermont Byways. The Danville Transportation Enhancement Project is a partnership among VTrans, the Vermont Arts Council and the Town of Danville, Vermont to integrate artistic enhancements into the redevelopment of a portion of U.S. Highway Route 2 through the village center, to "enhance the essence of a small, close-knit rural community by providing a safe, attractive and comfortable pedestrian environment in the Village of Danville while celebrating its unique historic, built and natural features." The project provided better sight lines and improved vehicular and pedestrian safety while respecting the aesthetic and socio-economic fabric of the community. VTrans is also in the process of developing a statewide layer of critical wildlife corridors, the first products of which will be developed by late 2004, in addition to undertaking research to minimize human and beaver conflicts. [N]

Washington State DOT's approach to CSD/CSS helps implement the WSDOT Livable Communities Policy. In 2005, WSDOT published Understanding Flexibility in Transportation Design. The guide describes how different environmental issues are inter-related and "how understanding this interrelationship leads to better decision-making during the evaluation and optimization of trade-offs." [N] The guide also explores issues around liability in design flexibility and the trade-offs involved. Environmental considerations such as urban forestry, urban streams, natural resources, cultural and historic resources, air-quality, noise, vibration, night sky darkness, and the use of recycled materials are covered, along with typical design considerations such as intersection characteristics, gateway elements, roadside design, roadway geometrics, and streetscape amenities. To better define the concept, trade-offs, and considerations when flexibility in design is part of the project development process, WSDOT also developed a Guide to Institutionalizing CSD. [N]

WSDOT Roadside and Site Developmentand WSDOT Design Visualization Services also provide implementation tools. WSDOT has emphasized learning from others both nationally and internationally, through sponsorship of a 2002 Regional U.S.-Canadian CSD Workshop and the CSD-100 International Symposium Main Street America Meets Main Street Europe. The agency provides Geometric Design Practices for European Roads on the WSDOT Context Sensitive Design website. In 2003 WSDOT published "Building Projects that Build Better Communities - Recommended Best Practices."

WSDOT's Roadside Manual includes guidance on "Design Enhancements," which WSDOT defines as "the incorporation of manmade elements in the landscape to accomplish goals such as expression of community character, marking a community entrance, providing corridor continuity on a scenic or recreational highway, and as mitigation for visual impacts." [N] Examples of such enhancements occur on tunnel portals, bridges, noise walls, community entrances, rest areas, and park and ride lots and may consist of a landform, water feature, wall or barrier texture, color, pavement type, brick variation, site furnishings, or a combination of elements, including incorporation of impressions into a wall, barrier, or bridge structure.

WSDOT's Washington State Roadside Manual also calls for the following questions to be answered at the 30 percent review point: [N]

  • What is the purpose of design enhancement?
  • What is the community character?
  • What is the historical significance?
  • What is the cultural significance?
  • How does enhancement contribute to corridor continuity?
  • Who is the audience?
    • Driver & passengers
    • Transit and rail users
    • Pedestrian or recreational users
    • Community/neighborhood residents
  • How long will the design enhancement be viewed?
    • Is it on a bridge portal that is seen for long moments on approach?
    • Is it on the side of the road and seen only briefly?
    • Is it at an intersection where drivers will be stopped at a light?
    • Is it at a park and ride lot or safety rest area?
  • Is the design enhancement in a publicly accessible area (such as a viewpoint, park, or plaza)?
  • How great is the potential for vandalism on the site?
  • Will the design enhancement create a distraction or act as a fixed object that can be a hazard?
  • Will the design enhancement block sight lines (to signs, merging traffic, etc.) or infringe on safety?
  • Will the design enhancement be lighted?
  • Will lighting create a distraction or glare problem?
  • Can the lighting be developed to enhance visibility for both road users and pedestrians?
  • How high is the chance that the design could become an attractive nuisance?
  • What are the dimensions of the design enhancement?
  • Does its scale relate to its context?

Incorporation of art into the design of a facility is an option for some projects, including a repeating element or pattern along the length of a corridor, which can include wall textures, luminaire design, railing design, or site furnishings such as bicycle racks, street tree grates, trashcans, or benches. The WSDOT Traffic Manual, "Signs" has a section on Community Entrance Markers (under "Miscellaneous Signing") that provides guidelines on these elements.

WisDOT's Community Sensitive Design Development has resulted in a Policy/Philosophy Statement for CSD in WisDOT, revision of the WisDOT Facilities Development Process to include public involvement opportunities earlier and more often, development of policy and guidance on formats for Public Involvement meetings and coordination and extensive outreach to internal and external stakeholders in the development of policy changes. Design criteria tables and guidance were expanded to incorporate the full range of flexibility provided in the AASHTO "Green Book" guidance. [N] Whereas WisDOT FDM design criteria formerly fell in the middle to upper range of the AASHTO design criteria, the revised design criteria include AASHTO minimum design criteria available with justification addressing safety, traffic operations and social and environmental effects of a project. Design Standards and Planting and Aesthetic Design components of the manual received particular attention. The WisDOT Local Cost Share Policy is being revised to incorporate more aesthetic elements into projects by expanding the list of eligible items to include low cost treatments such as textured and colored concretes and to incorporate budgets that can be used to fund "non-standard" treatments outside the list of eligible items.

WisDOT has developed CSD training workshops for over 400 WisDOT staff and other stakeholders. Outreach has included such groups as local government officials, environmental groups, state and federal agencies, Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association, Wisconsin Association of Consulting Engineers, and special interest groups. At the training sessions, attendees are provided with a CSD training manual and copies of the WisDOT FDM revisions, developed by WisDOT Roadway Development Engineers. They also receive a copy of the FHWA publication "Flexibility In Highway Design." To support CSD/CSS work in each district, WisDOT also established "aesthetic contacts," given more in-depth training by WisDOT landscape architects. The aesthetic contacts assist district engineers in refining visual impact ratings, determining aesthetic budget estimates, and developing aesthetic design treatments. [N]

WisDOT has also assembled resources on context sensitive solutions that are available to state transportation agencies on-line, or are in process. [N]

Roadway Aesthetic Treatments Photo Album Workbook - Federal Lands Highway

The Federal Lands Highway Divisions have extensive experience with aesthetic treatments on highway projects. In an effort to document innovative practices being applied across the nation, a Technology Deployment project was initiated to collect information about aesthetic treatments used in highway construction. The product of this effort is a compact disc with approximately 200 examples of innovative aesthetic treatments. The Roadway Aesthetic Treatments Photo Album Workbook . The workbook has been showcased at previous annual meetings of the American Association of State and Transportation Highway Officials and the Transportation Research Board.

The Aesthetic Treatments Photo Album was produced during FY 2000 and updated in FY 2002, providing an extensive reference guide of innovative aesthetic treatments that have been applied on transportation projects nationwide for bridges, walls, barriers, soil and rock cut and fill slopes with a focus on roadway case studies. For each aesthetic treatment example as much of the following information as possible is included: [N]

  • Agency Name
  • Brief Project and Aesthetic Treatment Description
  • Reason(s) Aesthetic Treatment Used
  • Contact Person Name and Address
  • Color Photographs
  • Contract Document Plan Sheets
  • Construction Specification
  • Bid Price Cost Data
  • Maintenance Requirements (if any)

Example 5 : Federal Lands Highway Special Aesthetic Treatment Categories

1 - Rock Cut Slope
Rock staining
Rock sculpting
Fresh and weathered
Half casts

2 - Soil Cut Slope
Serrated Soil
Creation of natural looking land forms
Special vegetative treatments

3 - Fill Slopes
Rock 1.25H : 1V
Reinforced slopes

4 - Retaining Walls
Form liner treatments
Painted or stained face
Natural stone facing
Simulated stone facing
Custom treatments
Bush Hammer finished concrete
Vegetation planted facing
Shotcrete facing
MSE w/Precast Facings
Segmental block walls
Welded wire faced
Timber faced

5 - Rockfall- Barriers, Fences, Draped Mesh
Weathering steel guardrail
Steel backed timber
Stone masonry or simulated stone
Concrete core w/stone or timber facade
Gabion Barriers
GM rail w/aesthetic treatment
Brugg or other proprietary fence
DOT's own fence
Colored vinyl coated chain link or gabion mesh fences or slope screening

6 - Bridges
Colored or stained concrete
Stone masonry or simulated stone
Form liner treatments
Custom treatments

7 - Bioengineering Treatments
Live stakes and Live planted walls
Logs and boulders on slope
Bounded fiber matrix
Organic based fertilizer
Riprap barbs


3.2.2 Context Sensitive Design/Solutions References and Resources
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State products for developing Context Sensitive Solutions are listed within state initiatives under Context Sensitive Solutions. The following technical assistance and guidance is available on a national basis.

Flexibility in Highway Design (FHWA Pub. No. FHWA-PD-97-062). In an effort to highlight Flexibility in Highway Design for the environment, FHWA produced this document which includes an Overview of the Highway Planning and Development Process as well as the following design guidelines: Highway Design Standards, Functional Classification, Design Controls, Horizontal and Vertical Alignment, Cross-Section Elements, Bridges and Other Major Structures, and Intersections.

  • The Center for Transportation and the Environment at N.C. State University offers a course on Context-Sensitive Solutions, with agenda available on-line.
  • Federal Highways Traffic Calming Website is dedicated to all the known and electronically publicized transportation programs and studies that pertain to traffic calming. As traffic calming needs often differ, techniques include police enforcement and public education only in some areas. In others, it means the employment of speed humps while in others it means the possible use of a wide array of techniques and devices. This web site is dedicated to all the known and electronically publicized transportation programs and studies that pertain to traffic calming. FHWA Community Impact Assessment Quick Reference for Transportation from the Federal Highway Administration. Also, FHWA - Citizen's Guide to Transportation Decision Making.
  • The National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse is an information service sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration and the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. Transportation Enhancements are community-focused activities related to surface transportation that involve consideration of environmental, cultural, economic, and social conditions. The site provides an explanation of the Transportation Enhancements program (a federal-aid reimbursement program) and how it is implemented at the state level. It provides professionals, policy makers and citizens with timely and accurate information necessary to make well-informed decisions about transportation enhancements, including landscaping and scenic beautification. The site includes a compilation of Web sites, virtual libraries, databases and other Internet resources that provide information on contacts, reports, legislation, policies, implementation or other issues relating to activities that can be funded as Transportation Enhancements.
  • Thinking Beyond the Pavement: A National Workshop on Integrating Highway Development with Communication and the Environment, University of Maryland.
  • A Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets, AASHTO. AASHTO updated their design flexibility guidance in 2005; it is available in their bookstore, The new title is Guide for Achieving Flexibility in Highway Design.
  • International Scanning Tour on Highway Geometric Design Practices for European Roads. (FHWA-PL-01-026) The objective of this scanning tour in June, 2000 was to review and document procedures and practices in highway geometric design and context sensitive design in several European countries. This "Report" gives a brief discussion on practices the scan tour participants found most significant.
  • A Guide to Best Practices for Achieving Context Sensitive Solutions , Transportation Research Board. NCHRP 20-07, Task 128 identified, described, and disseminated information on the best examples of highway projects contributing to enhanced community livability. The final report was published by AASHTO and is entitled, How Transportation and Community Partnerships Are Shaping America Part II: Streets and Roads . The publication is out of print but black and white copies are available from AASHTO. NCHRP Project 16-04 on Design Guidelines for Safe and Aesthetic Roadside Treatments in Urban Areas is due to be completed in late 2005. Objectives of the project are to develop 1) design guidelines for safe and aesthetic roadside treatments in urban areas and 2) a toolbox of effective roadside treatments that balance pedestrian, bicyclist, and motorist safety and mobility and accommodate community values. The guidelines will be based on an evaluation of the effects of treatments such as trees, landscaping, and other roadside features on vehicle speed and overall safety. The guidelines will generally focus on arterial and collector-type facilities in urban areas with speed limits between 25-50 mph.
  • Project for Public Spaces, Context Sensitive Solutions has published Getting Back to Place: Using Streets to Rebuild Communities.
  • Building Roads in Sync with Community Values, Public Roads Magazine.
  • Getting it Right in the Right-of-Way: Citizen Participation in Context Sensitive Highway Design, Scenic America.
  • Traditional Neighborhood Development: Street Design Guidelines, Institute of Transportation Engineers, 1999. [N]
  • The National Main Street Program is designed to improve all aspects of the downtown or central business district, producing both tangible and intangible benefits. Improving economic management, strengthening public participation, and making downtown a fun place to visit are as critical to Main Street's future as recruiting new businesses, rehabilitating buildings, and expanding parking. Building on downtown's inherent assets - rich architecture, personal service and traditional values and most of all, a sense of place - the Main Street approach has rekindled entrepreneurship, downtown cooperation, and civic concern.
  • National Park Service - Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program (RTCA), is a community resource of the National Park Service and works in urban, rural, and suburban communities with the goal of helping communities achieve on-the-ground conservation successes for their projects. They help communities help themselves by providing expertise and experience from around the nation. From urban promenades to trails along abandoned railroad rights-of-way to wildlife corridors, their assistance in greenway efforts is wide ranging. Similarly, their assistance in river conservation spans downtown riverfronts to regional water trails to streams.
  • Walkable Communities
  • Traffic
  • Context Sensitive Design for Major Urban Thoroughfares, a joint project of the Institute of Transportation Engineers and the Congress for the New Urbanism begun in 2003 will: 1) Present a new design framework developed in this effort specifically for use in urban projects, 2) Detail a design process to implement that framework based on current AASHTO, FHWA, ITE, and other design standards, criteria, and practices, 3) Incorporate optimal existing guidelines for the total public right-of-way, including but not limited to the pedestrian realm, intersections, bicycle facilities, transit, access management, and on-street parking. The project has received support from EPA and FHWA as well.


3.2.3 Designing for Rapid Construction/Renewal
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Renewal time can be defined as the time it takes to complete those on-roadway construction activities that impact traffic flow and the communities and businesses that rely on that roadway for services. Rapid renewal applies innovative activities or technologies to reduce the time traditionally allocated to these onroadway activities, minimizing the impact for people, fish, and wildlife.

Designers can contribute by accounting for new materials and streamlined construction techniques in facility design, considering and planning for the eventual need for repair. For example, to facilitate modular repair of a bridge, the use of standardized member dimensions may be desirable. One-pass paving operations may significantly reduce construction time.


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Continue to Section 3.3»
Table of Contents
Chapter 3
Designing for Environmental Stewardship in Construction & Maintenance
3.1 Beyond Mitigation: Projects to Achieve Environmental Goals
3.2 Context Sensitive Design/Solutions
3.3 Avoiding Impacts to Historic Sites
3.4 Designing to Accommodate Wildlife, Habitat Connectivity, and Safe Crossings
3.5 Culverts and Fish Passage
3.6 Stream Restoration and Bioengineering
3.7 Design Guidance for Stormwater and Erosion & Sedimentation Control
3.8 Drainage Ditches, Berms, Dikes, and Swales
3.9 Design for Sustainable, Low Maintenance Roadsides
3.10 Designing to Reduce Snow, Ice, and Chemical Accumulation
3.11 Designing to Minimize Air Quality Problems
3.12 Design and Specification for Recycling
3.13 Designing to Minimize Noise
3.14 Lighting Control/Minimization
3.15 Design for Sustainability and Energy Conservation
3.16 Safety Rest Areas, Traveler Services, and Parking Area Design
Lists: Examples | Tables | Figures
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