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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)                         scott.bradley@state.mn.us
   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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