Trends Winter 2015 - Page 21

‘CSS’ DESIGN APPROACH BALANCES WANTS AND NEEDS FOR ALL USERS W WHAT IS CONTEXT SENSITIVE SOLUTIONS? ith many wanting a stake in the final design of the Waukesha County Highway L/Janesville Road reconstruction, getting everyone on the same page was vital. To do that the County used a process called context sensitive solutions (CSS) at the beginning of the project to recognize everyone’s needs and wants upfront. The CSS process, which began in late 2007 and lasted approximately six months, involved a broad crosssection of the community. The CSS process for County Highway L, which was managed by a subconsultant with Ayres Associates’ input, used a step-by-step progression through project development. “It worked really well,” said Gary Evans, manager of Waukesha County’s Highway Engineering Division. “The whole part of it is the notion of informed consent, and I’d say we got a lot of buy-in into what we were doing with the project." The CSS process led to the design of an urban typical section with bike lanes, additional sidewalks, storm sewer and stormwater management improvements, and upgrades to side road intersections. Decorative lighting and streetscaping were incorporated into the design in coordination with the City of Muskego. The CSS Advisory Group included more than 20 roadway users, from County and City staff to business owners and other residents. County and City staff attended each meeting along with technical staff from consulting firms. Five CSS Advisory Group meetings were conducted, along with one public information Context sensitive solutions (CSS) is a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach that involves all stakeholders in providing a transportation facility that fits its setting. The approach leads to preserving and enhancing scenic, aesthetic, historic, community, and environmental resources, while improving or maintaining safety, mobility, and infrastructure conditions. Guiding Principles A CSS approach is guided by four core principles: 1. Strive toward a shared stakeholder vision to provide a basis for decisions. 2. Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of contexts. 3. Foster continuing communication and collaboration to achieve consensus. 4. Exercise flexibility and creativity to shape effective transportation solutions, while preserving and enhancing community and natural environments. Outcomes The outcomes of CSS should: • Be in harmony with the community and preserve the environmental, scenic, aesthetic, historic, and natural resource values of the area. • Be safe for all users. • Solve problems that are agreed upon by a full range of stakeholders. • Meet or exceed the expectations of designers and stakeholders, thereby adding lasting value to the community, the environment, and the transportation system. • Demonstrate effective and efficient use of resources (people, time, budget) among all parties. Source: Results of Joint AASHTO / FHWA Context Sensitive Solutions Strategic Planning Process, Summary Report, March 2007 meeting with more than 200 attendees in an open house format. Jeff Muenkel, Muskego’s community development director, said the City used the CSS meetings as an educational resource. The City tried to balance its own needs with those of business owners, motorists, and residents. City staff also used the process to discuss the future, including expected redevelopment and financial assistance the City was able to offer existing businesses. “Overall, it did get people thinking and got a lot of questions answered ahead of time that otherwise wouldn’t have been answ