Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)
At the 1998 workshop "Thinking Beyond the Pavement," a set of context sensitive solutions (CSS) principles for project development was developed. These principles have shaped Federal transportation policy guidance, and a number of transportation industry groups have worked to widely publish the principles and provide guidance for mainstreaming them into the transportation decision-making process. State and regional agencies have adopted CSS and have launched programs to integrate CSS into the programming, design, construction, and maintenance of transportation projects. Truly, a national movement is underway that is shaping the way we think about and meet our transportation needs.
Yet, in order to more fully integrate CSS into the entire transportation decision-making process, CSS should begin well before the early stages of project development, during transportation planning. It is at this stage that basic transportation policy is developed, communities and regions articulate a vision for their future, and decisions are made as to how current problems will be addressed while also anticipating future needs and solutions. A CSS approach to transportation planning means a commitment to meaningful stakeholder participation, and keeping the human and natural context foremost in mind, which will produce a plan for a transportation system that will be an asset to the community and/or region.
To help planning agencies and the public accomplish this goal, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has provided a toolkit designed to help planners and the public integrate CSS into transportation planning. The materials include basic information, discussion, and examples of current practices to provide guidance and insight. We suggest that you begin with the CSS Principles for Transportation Planning. These principles are applicable to all transportation planning efforts, from State long-range plans, to metropolitan planning organization (MPO) long-range transportation plans, to local corridor plans. They are not specific to any particular type of plan or planning agency. Those familiar with CSS will recognize many of these principles, as many of them parallel the CSS principles for project development. This is in recognition of the fact that there are strong linkages between planning and project development. Details and discussion of each principle are provided in Question & Answer format. The toolkit also includes a series of Fact Sheets and Case Studies from across the country, highlighting agencies already applying CSS principles in their planning process and documents. A Glossary of terms and abbreviations is also included.
FHWA is committed to the advancement of CSS nationwide and supports planning agencies and the public in their efforts to understand, adopt, and implement CSS in transportation planning. As part of that commitment, FHWA will continue to support research addressing transportation planning, including the enhancement of community and social benefits of highway transportation and improvements in the quality of the natural environment by reducing highway-related pollution, protecting and enhancing ecosystems, and strengthening linkages between NEPA and planning. Integrating CSS in transportation planning will help the transportation industry move closer to meeting FHWA's highest priorities for the nation, the Vital Few Goals. Additionally, the application of CSS will help agencies meet the requirements for planning set forth in the current Federal transportation legislation SAFETEA-LU.
Qualities of Excellence in a Transportation Plan
Characteristics of the Planning Process Contributing to Excellence