|Definition of CSS
Solutions or CSS is an interdisciplinary approach that seeks effective, multimodal transportation solutions by working with stakeholders to develop, build and maintain cost-effective transportation facilities which fit into and reflect the project’s surroundings – its “context.” Through early, frequent, and meaningful communication with stakeholders, and a flexible and creative approach to design, the resulting projects should improve safety and mobility for the traveling public, while seeking to preserve and enhance the scenic, economic, historic, and natural qualities of the settings through which they pass.
“Context” as it applies to transportation projects can be defined as “all elements related to the people and place where a project is located.” This includes both visible elements such as environmental or historic resources and invisible elements such as community values, traditions, and expectations. While transportation agencies have experience dealing with the former, the latter “intangibles” can sometimes be more challenging to identify and work with for transportation professionals.
Context is identified through early and continuous collaboration with stakeholders. Stakeholders for a project include any person or organization which has a direct stake in the project being considered. This can be anything from a small group of residents and businesses affected by the redesign of a rural intersection to thousands of individuals when a major roadway or transit extension is being built. Stakeholders can include residents and landowners near a project, advocates for policy, community and historic interests, elected officials, government agencies, and many others. Stakeholders should be involved from the early stages of the project, especially before major decisions are made. The form and frequency of the contacts with stakeholders will be determined by the individual transportation issues involved. It is important to have a systematic method for reaching out so that representatives of all possible individual stakeholders can be organized and can communicate clearly with the transportation agency.
CSS seeks to ensure that stakeholders’ views are carefully considered in the decision-making process. The information gained from partnering with stakeholders is then used by the transportation agency to develop an informed solution to the transportation issue and to plan and design transportation projects that “fit” into their surroundings.