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January 2013 Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) Context Sensitive Solutions is a principle-based and benefit-driven way of doing business to support Definition: MnDOT’s Vision and Strategic Plan as a flagship initiative (see attached CSS Principles & Benefits). CSS is a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach that CSS is about accountability and responsiveness in building relationships and trust with stakeholders involves all stakeholders in and the public to improve processes, outcomes and cost-effectiveness. CSS creates opportunities to providing a transportation accomplish more with less through collaborative alliances and partnerships. A CSS approach uses facility that fits its setting and early and ongoing public and stakeholder involvement to help identify and resolve problems and leads to preserving and value conflicts before they cause costly process and project conflicts, delays, and rework cycles. enhancing scenic, aesthetic, Avoidance of delays and rework cycles contributes to process streamlining and overall time savings historic, community and and improvements in agency cost-effectiveness. CSS relies upon innovation and flexibility in environmental resources while planning, design, construction, operations and maintenance decision-making to balance competing also improving or maintaining objectives with right-sized solutions that optimize benefit to cost ratios and return upon investments. safety, mobility and infrastructure conditions Background: In 1999, the Federal Highway Administration designated MnDOT as one of five pilot states to help advance institutionalization of a context sensitive design approach in transportation. The nationally advocated philosophy and principles are now referred to as Context Sensitive Solutions or CSS. The principles of CSS (15 attributes of excellence in process and outcomes) are referenced within federal surface transportation acts and legislation and recent national research correlated many agency and . user benefits (22) with the effective application of CSS principles. MnDOT is a recognized CSS leader and innovator and has been a partner to many nationally known and award-winning projects and efforts that demonstrated the benefits of applying CSS philosophy and principles. In 2009, MnDOT recognized a strategic opportunity and need to take integration of CSS to a heightened level, as a department-wide business model, to achieve more benefits and returns upon investment for the agency and its customers. Consequently, MnDOT appointed a Director of CSS and identified CSS as one of the flagship initiatives for moving the agency toward its strategic vision. Challenges: The main challenge is to enable and sustain change management that can institutionalize the implementation of CSS philosophy and principles throughout MnDOT. Enabling and sustaining the change requires ongoing and balanced attention to the following focus areas: 1) the business case, 2) incentives, 3) visioning, 4) processes, 5) skills, 6) training, 7) resources, 8) action plans, 9) communication and 10) accountability. The CSS Director is housed in the Office of Environmental Stewardship and works department-wide to address the desired change management focus areas. For More Information The CSS business case addresses the following challenges and opportunities: Contact: Improve customer and stakeholder relationships (build confidence and trust) Scott Bradley Improve efficiency and performance (reduce costly delays and rework cycles) Director of Context Improve ability to balance competing objectives within constrained resources (optimize benefit to Sensitive Solutions cost ratios and returns upon investment) 651-366-3302 Reduce costs of doing business (seek collaborative and right-sized solutions) firstname.lastname@example.org Achieve more agency/customer benefits (22 CSS benefits identified by national research) CSS Principles: (2009 NCHRP Report 642) Use interdisciplinary teams Involve your stakeholders Seek broad-based public involvement Use a full range of communication strategies Achieve consensus on purpose and need Address alternatives and all transportation modes Seek safe facilities for communities and all users Maintain environmental harmony Address community and social issues Address aesthetic concerns and integrations Use a full range of design choices and flexibility Document project decisions Track and meet all commitments Use agency resources effectively Create lasting value for communities and the public CSS Benefits: (2009 NCHRP Report 642) Improved predictability of project delivery Improved project scoping and budgeting Improved long-term decisions and investments Improved environmental stewardship Optimized maintenance and operations Increased risk management and liability protection Improved stakeholder and public feedback Increased stakeholder and public participation, ownership, and trust Decreased costs for overall project delivery Decreased time for overall project delivery Increased partnering opportunities Minimized impact to human and natural environments Improved mobility for users Improved walk-ability and bike-ability Improved safety (motorists, transit users, pedestrians, bicyclists ...) Improved multi-modal options (including transit) Improved community and public satisfaction Improved quality of life for communities and the public Improved traffic speed management Design features appropriate to context (social, economic, environmental …) Minimized construction related disruptions to businesses and neighbors Improved opportunities for economic development Progress to Date: From 2009 to date, more than 2,500 people (60% MnDOT) have been reached through (24) “Awareness, Knowledge & Skill Building” venues - (1) continually available online CSS E-Learning Class, (1) CSS National Dialog, (1) Flexibility in Design Forum, (1) CSS Integrations in Construction, Operations & Maintenance Forum, (1) CSS Integrations in MnDOT Services and Programs Forum, (1) CSS in Pre-construction, Construction & Maintenance Project Review and Field Tour, (5) CSS Core Foundations Workshops, (9) Advanced Flexibility in Design Workshops, and (4) 2-hour CSS Integrations Pre-construction, Construction & Maintenance Webinars. With respect to exemplary project and program outcomes to date, MnDOT (and partners) have received more FHWA biennial Excellence in Design and Environmental Excellence Awards than any other state DOT. Increasingly, CSS related considerations have weighed considerably in the evaluation criteria for the selection of the biennial FHWA award recipients. Within the area of “CSS Advocacy & Outreach”, efforts have focused on 1) continuing a CSS “speaker bureau” service (typically 30 to 40 presentations annually), 2) CSS integration support at the District project planning, development and operations levels, 3) CSS integration support across all MnDOT Divisions (including work with more than 20 other MnDOT process improvement efforts and initiatives) and 4) continuing national CSS influence and leadership aligned with FHWA, AASHTO and the Transportation Research Board. Within the area of “CSS Resource & Capacity Building”, efforts have focused on 1) improving the CSS Website as an Online Resource Center, 2) advancing research nationally and locally, 3) increasing internal technical support within the Office of Environmental Stewardship, and 4) exploring approaches for establishing and accessing external interdisciplinary CSS expert resource teams as mentors to assist and facilitate MnDOT staff in building greater CSS capacity. Within the area of “CSS Alignments & Processes”, efforts have focused on 1) CSS “executive level” assessments and action planning exercises, 2) collaborative work with other MnDOT initiative stewards, 3) development and deployment of CSS integration forums, workshops and webinars, and concerted work with other less formal approaches to identifying and assessing CSS integration and implementation challenges, gaps, needs, opportunities and priorities. Primary Risks: Risks from falling short of main-streaming CSS as a business model, across the organization, include: Continuing inconsistency and falling short in the level of progress and innovation we want to attain in 1) improving customer relationships, confidence and trust, in 2) improving efficiency and performance through reduction in delays and rework cycles, in 3) reducing costs of business and improving capacity to better balance competing objectives within existing constraints, and in 4) achieving more benefits for the buck and right-sized solutions. Continuing inconsistency in attaining the 22 desired and previously cited agency and customer benefits that are correlated with application of CSS principles by recent NCHRP research. Recommended Actions: The following recommended Executive level actions would help accelerate and sustain change management in integrating and institutionalizing implementation of CSS philosophy and principles throughout MnDOT to maximize benefits and cost-effectiveness for the agency and its customers. Executive level leverage for all MnDOT staff to complete the 60 to 90 minute online CSS E- Learning class. Executive level leverage for designation of “resident” teams in MnDOT Districts and Offices to take ownership for CSS action planning and implementation initiatives. Executive level leverage for an annual MnDOT CSS Incentives and Awards Program. Executive level leverage for CSS Performance Measurement focused on the highest priority business case challenges and opportunities or benefits and outcomes desired. The above recommended Executive level actions also serve as and align with other strategies that support four existing CSS flagship initiative strategic goals: 1) Principles of CSS are understood and applied as a business model in development and delivery of all MnDOT services, programs and projects, 2) Benefits of CSS are understood and realized as outcomes in all MnDOT service, program and project delivery areas, 3) Performance-Based Flexibility in Planning and Design opportunities, approaches and tools are clearly understood and applied in developing MnDOT transportation programs and projects, and 4) Complete Streets planning, design, operations and implementation opportunities, approaches and tools are clearly understood and applied in developing MnDOT transportation programs and projects.
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