Institutionalizing Flexibility in Transportation Design - Washington

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has initiated a multi-faceted, multidisciplinary approach to institutionalizing the processes of Context-Sensitive Design/Context-Sensitive Solutions (CSD/CSS) into all highway projects. The concepts of CSD/CSS are not always fully understood and have been construed at times as a license to drop the level of safety standards regardless of the needs and contexts of the facility. As a state highway agency WSDOT, with its partners has focused on defining the philosophy and concepts of CSD/CSS, creating a consistent approach to developing and implementing projects and training staff and partner agencies to improve understanding and to allow for the dissemination of information to stakeholders regarding the CSD/CSS approach.

This paper emphasizes the necessity of CSD/CSS as a way of doing business, ensuring that the practice of designing transportation facilities involves an informed, balanced approach that considers safety, aesthetics, and community needs.

Experience has shown WSDOT that to be successful requires support from the top of the agency. This was memorialized in an Executive Order detailing WSDOT's CSD/CSS approach. Two documents were developed. The first to improve stakeholder and partner interaction and communication and the second to better define the concept, trade-offs, and considerations when flexibility in design is part of the project development process. Preliminary results of research on CSD have shown that safe and aesthetically attractive features and contextual design can be developed to meet the varied needs of project stakeholders.

Publication Date: 
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Publication Number: 
WA-RD 634.1
Last modified: 
12/06/2018 - 07:47
Anna St. Martin, Samih Shilbayeh, John Milton
Washington (State). Dept. of Transportation.
Number of Pages: 
Context sensitive design, Design practices, Highway design, Planning and design, Transportation safety, Aesthetics.