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Federal Highway Administration / Publications / Focus / October 2009

Accelerating Infrastructure Innovations

Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-10-007
Date: October 2009
Printable Version (.pdf, 0.3 mb)

Quantifying the Benefits of Context Sensitive Solutions

Creating more liveable communities and sustainable transportation facilities is the desired result from applying context sensitive solutions (CSS) principles in the planning and development of surface transportation projects. The integration of CSS principles is intended to result in a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach that involves all stakeholders to develop a transportation facility that fits its physical setting and preserves scenic, aesthetic, historic, and environmental resources, while maintaining safety and mobility. CSS can be applied to all aspects of project development, from planning and design to construction, operations, and maintenance. The use of CSS supports liveable communities, which provide transportation choices that promote place-based transportation policies that are centered on people. With more and more States using CSS today for transportation initiatives, a new report available from the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) looks at how to categorize and measure the benefits resulting from CSS projects.

A screen shot from the home page of www.contextsensitivesolutions.org.

To learn more about context sensitive solutions, visit www.contextsensitivesolutions.org.

Quantifying the Benefits of Context Sensitive Solutions (NCHRP Report 642) presents successful practices that agencies have used to assess the value and benefits of integrating CSS principles in the development of projects. Also featured are guidelines for quantifying the benefits of applying CSS principles, as well as training materials that State and local transportation agencies can use in applying the guidelines to their own transportation programs or projects. The guidance was developed by assessing CSS case studies from across the country. Case studies featured include the Smith Creek Parkway in Wilmington, North Carolina, an urban coastal highway and rail project that has provided stakeholder, environmental, community, and safety benefits. Also highlighted is Iowa's Keosauqua Bridge project on Highway 1. This historic bridge replacement project improved safety for drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians while incorporating aesthetic enhancements and maintaining harmony with the surrounding environment. Each case study in the report was assessed using 15 principles of CSS, which range from using interdisciplinary teams and involving stakeholders to addressing community and social issues, utilizing the full range of design choices, addressing aesthetic treatments and enhancements, and using agency resources effectively.

The report details 22 categories of benefits resulting from CSS projects, including improved project scoping and budgeting, increased stakeholder and public participation, decreased costs, minimized overall impact to the human and natural environment, decreased time for project delivery, improved safety, and improved quality of life for the community. As the report notes, "a project that creates lasting value for the community will improve quality of life, since it reflects the community vision and addresses the public and stakeholder issues and concerns."

The report's guidelines for quantifying the benefits of CSS walk transportation agencies through the necessary steps, including using standardized methods and data collection tools, defining CSS principles and benefits, and using reliable performance measures. Also featured is a project example that illustrates a complete application of the guidelines.

Quantifying the Benefits of Context Sensitive Solutions is available at www.trb.org/Publications/Public/PubsNCHRPProjectReports.aspx. To learn more about context sensitive solutions, visit www.contextsensitivesolutions.org. More information on the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) CSS resources is available at www.fhwa.dot.gov/planning/csstp/, or by contacting K. Lynn Berry at FHWA, 404-895-6212 (email: K.Lynn.Berry@fhwa.dot.gov).

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Updated: 06/27/2017
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