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Why CSS? A Focus on Quality of Life

The mission of IDOT has been changing to encompass both connectivity and quality of life.

At the conception of the Interstate system over 50 years ago, connecting America was the agreed-upon goal of the nation's transportation officials. The Illinois transportation program, in partnership with the US Department of Transportation and the myriad local transportation agencies, has since accomplished the goal of safely and effectively connecting the citizens of Illinois with each other, and connecting Illinois to the rest of the country.

But this success has itself changed Illinoisans' views of what they want from IDOT today. Issues such as traffic congestion from home to work, suburban sprawl, preservation of scenic landscapes and historic neighborhoods, and the ability to use our transportation system to walk, bike, and access public transit are now much higher priorities in terms of what people expect from transportation policy.

Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) aims at addressing these new concerns, and making sure that our transportation projects are designed to improve the quality of life for all who have a stake in the system. Travelers, communities, businesses, elected officials and many others are all "stakeholders" in our transportation system.

Since these issues can be complex, the CSS process works as a partnership between IDOT and stakeholders to come up with working solutions to our transportation needs. Stakeholders help IDOT understand their needs for, and concerns about, our transportation system. IDOT can then take this input, along with all of its other work and analysis, and use it to make planning and design decisions.

IDOT still must make the ultimate choices about a project. Safety, the integrity of the transportation system, and good stewardship of the public's transportation dollars all remain IDOT's responsibilities. However, thorough stakeholder involvement can contribute to these decisions, and lead to a general consensus about the choices made.


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