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Context Sensitive Design

What is Context Sensitive Design? 

By the Minnesota Department of Transportation

Context Sensitive Design (CSD) is the art of creating public works projects that meet the needs of roadway users, neighboring communities and the environment. It integrates projects into the context of setting in a sensitive manner through careful planning, consideration of different perspectives, and tailoring designs to particular project circumstances.

Context Sensitive Design uses a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach that includes early involvement of key stakeholders to ensure that transportation projects are not only "moving safely and efficiently," but are also in harmony with the natural, social, economic, and cultural environment.

CSD requires an early and continuous commitment to public involvement, flexibility in exploring new solutions, and an openness to new ideas. Community members play an important role in identifying local and regional problems and solutions that may better meet and balance the needs of all stakeholders. Early public involvement can help reduce expensive and time-consuming rework later on and thus contributes to more efficient project development.

Context Sensitive Design promotes six key principles:

  1. Balance safety, mobility, community, and environmental goals in all projects.
  2. Involve the public and affected agencies early and continuously.
  3. Use an interdisciplinary team tailored to project needs.
  4. Address all modes of travel.
  5. Apply flexibility inherent in design standards.
  6. Incorporate aesthetics as an integral part of good design.

The City of Durango uses Context Sensitive Design principles to evaluate design plans for multimodal projects and to ensure projects realistically fit in roadway cross sections. Read more.

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