Federal Highway Administration Context Sensitive Solutions Primer Banner
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A Different Approach
The Context Sensitive Way
CSS and Consensus
Characteristics of the CSS
CSS Products or Design
Let's Define Context
Better Value
Tailored Solutions
Customer Satisfaction
On-Time Delivery
  Challenges of Implementing
CSS at the Federal Level
CSS at the State Level
CSS at the Regional Level
CSS at the Local Level
Unique Issues of Urban Arterials


A Different Approach

Flowchart showing the old way of developing transporation projects

In the past, transportation projects were typically developed by technical experts and presented to the public once many decisions had already been made. Over time, the public has become increasingly interested in influencing the details of transportation projects. People who are affected wish to be more closely involved in project development—from early planning through detailed design and construction. Transportation officials seek innovative ways to solve transportation problems and, at the same time, respond to social, economic and environmental goals. Achieving this balance has required a shift toward greater collaboration with the public. Transportation professionals must be prepared to respond to this shift as they develop and deliver projects or maintain facilities.


The Context Sensitive Way

The CSS approach to project development is to simultaneously engage stakeholders and interdisciplinary teams to resolve transportation problems together. It is not only a better way to solve the problem, it often produces a better solution.

Flowchart showing the CSS way of developing transportation projects

The CSS approach assumes that all projects have a context that should inform the development of solutions. An understanding of the landscape and the community is essential. The context sensitive way plans for and responds to the unique needs and qualities of individual communities. At each step, inclusiveness, flexibility, and creativity fuel development of fresh solutions and increase the prospects for success. In the end, stakeholders are generally more satisfied with both the process and the outcome.

CSS processes build consensus among all stakeholders. Consensus is commonly defined as the point at which all stakeholders recognize that an outcome is best for the community as a whole-–even if it does not completely serve individual interests.