Listed below are recent developments pertinent to context sensitive solutions from the past six months. If you would like to suggest a recent development on this topic, please submit a short description to AASHTO (including any pertinent links) on the Share Info with AASHTO form.
The Federal Highway Administration has released a new report concerning the performance of right-sizing analysis on aging urban infrastructure. This form of context sensitive solution, which involves adjusting travel facilities to reflect changes in demand, provides the opportunity to develop transportation policies that better fit the community, promote safety, and help the community achieve broader economic development goals. The study provides a four-step process for right-sizing analyses, including looking at the motivation for the project, traffic management strategies, and potential economic development goals and impacts. The report includes examples of projects implemented in several states. For more information, link to the report. (1-3-19)
An overview of technical assistance the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has provided to state transportation agencies on context sensitive solutions and design (CSS/D), as well as highlights of a project that integrated CSS/D principles, are provided in the September 2018 issue of FHWA’s Successes in Stewardship Newsletter. The issue describes CSS/D principles and describes the Watford City bypass project in North Dakota as an example of the benefits of integrating CSS/D principles into the transportation planning and project delivery process. Summary reports on assistance provided by the FHWA are available on the FHWA CSS/D web page. For more information, link to the newsletter. (9-18-18)
The Federal Highway Administration has issued a state of the practice assessment and a report on the agency’s technical assistance program regarding context sensitive solutions and design (CSS/D). The assessment is intended to demonstrate how the CSS/D process helps design better projects and accelerate project delivery. The assessment includes CSS/D best practices, case studies, and results from interviews with 12 state DOTs. The second report describes technical assistance FHWA has provided to six states as well as four virtual peer exchanges. This report documents how the six states were selected; the purpose, schedule, and format of each session; key takeaways and lessons learned; and recommendations for future technical assistance and peer exchanges. For more information, link to the assessment and the summary report. (8-20-18)
Design guidance on creating multimodal thoroughfares as part of a context sensitive design and development project has been issued by the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE). The manual provides principles and approaches for designing streets that are safe for all users. It is intended specifically for use in suburban communities and small towns and complements other design guidance documents issued by ITE, AASHTO, Federal Highway Administration, and the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO). In addition to planning and design considerations, the manual describes pedestrian accommodations and vehicle speed management, and it provides a series of case studies and a literature review. For more information, link to the manual. (5-11-18)
Smart Growth America’s National Complete Streets Coalition has issued a report recognizing a dozen communities for their exemplary efforts to promote active transportation and social equity through the planning and building of better and safer bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. The Best Complete Streets Initiatives of 2017 highlights 12 communities that are examples of the best efforts to make complete streets a reality. The communities in the report are recognized for their high levels of engaging the community, embedding complete streets into the transportation planning processes, and implementing innovative projects. The efforts range from statewide design guides to local planning and community engagement. For more information, link to the report. (3-21-18)
The Federal Highway Administration has made available a recording of a Feb. 21 webinar that gave a state of the practice assessment of context sensitive solutions. The webinar addressed results from a national assessment concerning how context sensitive solutions and design principles are integrated in transportation decision making. Representatives from consulting firms and federal and state agencies discussed strategies for state departments of transportation to incorporate CSS principles in project development. For more information, link to the recording. (3-1-18)
The United Nations Environmental Program has released two reports that provide recommendations on development of better cities. The Weight of Cities: Resource Requirements of Future Urbanization recommends the transition to low-carbon and resource efficient cities via compact growth, resource monitoring, better connections by affordable transit, and establishing a new model for city governance to support new policies. The second report, Sustainable Urban Infrastructure Transitions in the ASEAN Region: A Resource Perspective, analyzes future urbanization in Southeast Asia. The report encourages the development of compact, mixed-use cities; land-use planning that prevents slum formation; construction of resilient buildings and electricity grids; and profitable exchanges of waste energy and materials. For more information, link to the announcement. (2-9-18)
The Federal Highway Administration has issued a case study describing the use of context sensitive solutions principles by the North Dakota Department of Transportation for the U.S. 85 Watford City Bypass project. The report found that NDDOT has strong relationships with other federal and state agencies and with tribal governments. NDDOT also has a high degree of coordination within the agency and emphasizes in-person outreach to the public. Additionally, the report found that the CSS approach and flexible design concepts used on the bypass project helped to minimize impacts to both the human and natural environment and helped earn the project an award. For more information, link to the report. (11-29-17)
Two case studies of context sensitive solutions technical assistance meetings hosted by the Federal Highway Administration have been added to the agency’s database of CSS case studies. The two case studies focus on separate meetings conducted in Florida and in North Dakota. Florida’s meeting focused on implementation of its complete streets approach in the state. North Dakota Department of Transportation focused its technical assistance on the U.S. Highway 85 Watford City Bypass, which incorporated CSS principles. For more information, link to the Florida and North Dakota case studies or to the FHWA case studies database. (11-1-17)
The Federal Highway Administration has released four case studies that illustrate the application of a Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) framework to the process of addressing transportation challenges and integrating resiliency strategies into the operations of state departments of transportation. Based on technical assistance provided to state DOTs, the case studies show how the principles of CSS can be applied to state and local resiliency planning, incorporated into a practical design checklist, used to inform design flexibility, and used to improve project design and performance metrics. For more information, link to case studies for Delaware, Idaho, Minnesota and Washington. (8-9-17)
A performance-based approach for highway geometric design is proposed in a report produced under the National Cooperative Highway Research Program. The report, A Performance-Based Highway Geometric Design Process (NCHRP Report 839), includes a brief history of highway design in the U.S., including recent advances, and recommends that multimodal solutions be addressed in the geometric design process. The report includes principles for an effective highway design process, such as including quantitative measures of transportation performance in design solutions. It also provides potential approaches to updating the AASHTO geometric design guidance (the Green Book). For more information, link to the report. (4-14-17)
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) hosted a webinar to discuss the use of context sensitive solutions (CSS) and environmental justice (EJ) to enhance livability on April 12, 2017. The webinar was sponsored by FHWA's Office of Planning, Environment, and Realty and included a discussion of stakeholder engagement strategies, identification of adverse impacts and implementation of CSS to improve livability in disadvantaged communities. The webinar also included a discussion of how CSS and EJ principles can be better incorporated into the transportation decisionmaking process. The link to the webinar recording is available here.
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