CSS Online Training Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Definition of Context Sensitive Solutions?
Context Sensitive Solutions 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.” This will be done 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.
Who is a Stakeholder?
A stakeholder is simply anyone who has a “stake” in the
outcome of a project.
Stakeholders can include:
- Home Owners
- Business Owners
- Environmental groups
- Opposition groups
- Bicycle groups
- Trucking companies
- Emergency Services
- Elected Officials
On what types of transportation projects is CSS used?
The CSS process must be used large transportation projects
such as new construction, reconstruction and major expansion. IDOT officials
may also use the CSS process on smaller projects if there is controversy or if
there is a major impact to the community.
What are examples of projects where the CSS process is
typically not used?
Simple resurfacing projects and rural bridge projects.
Can the CSS process be applied to local agency
Local agencies are not required by law to do CSS on their
projects. However, IDOT strongly encourages local agencies to apply CSS on
applicable projects. Additionally, local agency projects that request future
state and/or federal money may be required to apply CSS to those projects as
determined by the department.
What is the Department’s
Project Study Group?
The Project Study Group is made
up of IDOT technical personnel and may include design, bridge and construction
engineers, environmental experts, and landscape architects to name a few. This
group is doing the work behind the scenes. They will prepare for the public
involvement meetings, facilitate the meetings and use the information from the
public to move the project along. The Project Study Group will adhere to the
design and construction criteria that must be followed.
What is the Community Advisory Group (CAG)?
A Community Advisory Group (CAG)
is an established group of interested stakeholders who provide feedback and
advice to IDOT through the life of the project. The Department hosts a
kickoff meeting for each CSS project to describe the transportation project and
to solicit members for the CAG. CAG members are then invited to attend meetings
during which they will share their views and experiences as members of the
The Community Advisory Group may
be limited to certain numbers of members for ease of facilitation. For example,
on a very large project three or four homeowners may be selected to represent
all homeowners, and three or four business owners may be asked to represent all
businesses, etc. These representatives are then asked to keep their members
up-to-date on the project and provide feedback to the rest of the stakeholders.
The CAG will be tailored to each project to ensure the best outcome for the
communities while maintaining the project schedule set forth by the Project
Who should not be a member of a Community Advisory Group
The media should not be a member of the CAG. They may
interview CAG members and attend meetings as observers; however, they should not
influence the outcome of the project. In certain cases, elected officials in a
community should not be a part of the CAG either. If the project is
controversial, and the local elected officials have taken a position, the
general public may not feel their opinion counts.
How does the Department apply flexibility in design in
the CSS process?
The Department utilizes the flexibility inherent in all
IDOT design policies to meet requirements identified in the CSS process. IDOT
also uses judgment and creativity to craft the optimum solution for each
How is CSS applied during and after project
All major decisions made during the early CSS stages must
be followed in construction and maintenance. The original Community Advisory
Group should be maintained (if possible) and kept informed during the design and
construction phases. New members may be added as necessary.