Adopt a context-sensitive approach for all state transportation projects


The State should establish context-sensitive solutions as the standard approach to all transportation projects funded by it or within its jurisdiction. Context-sensitive solutions emphasize the role of streets as a part of the community rather than just as conduits for moving cars. This approach is also a way of doing business that begins with long-range planning and is carried through project implementation. It encourages transportation engineers to use creativity and flexibility in project design. Innovative examples from around the country demonstrate how such an approach to designing transportation projects can improve traffic flow while preserving community character and supporting walkable places that are more easily served by transit. Additionally, experience in states that employ context-sensitive solutions illustrates how such an approach can produce projects that are embraced rather than fought by communities. By avoiding the costs associated with long delays, aborted projects, and bitter public battles, a context-sensitive approach can help states more effectively use limited transportation funds.


Context-sensitive solutions represent a fundamental shift in the way most state departments of transportation do business. Producing results therefore requires sustained leadership from senior-level officials. New guidance might be required to change current practices and existing design standards may need to be revised, although in most instances the desired results can be obtained within existing standards.

To effectively change the direction of a state transportation department, career professionals within the department may need training to help them develop more creative and flexible ways to apply their engineering expertise. Additional staff with expertise in urban design, land use planning, public involvement, and related fields may also need to be hired and integrated into project teams.

A successful context-sensitive process:


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