This document provides conceptual guidance for the application of context-sensitive designs in the project development process and provides a compilation of issues that must be evaluated in highway design. The intent of this document is not to be a definitive standard. Rather it is to offer information and tools to project staff to increase their understanding of how the different issues are interrelated, and how understanding this interrelationship leads to better decision-making during the evaluation and optimization of trade offs.
The contents of this document were developed to provide background information on the project development process, and the issues of liability surrounding flexibility in design. Detailed discussions illustrate significant and distinguishing features of a variety of contexts in which projects may be located. Also, guidance is provided for what type of users may be within each context, and how to develop a connection with the local community. Each of these user groups has different needs associated with the design and operation of transportation facilities, and at times these needs conflict. Many of these needs and the effect they may have on other users are discussed in this document. Environmental considerations such as urban forestry, urban streams, natural resources, cultural and historic resources, air-quality, noise, vibration, night sky darkness, and the use of recycled materials are important components in context-sensitive designs. This document provides information on how to mitigate for possible impacts of transportation facilities on the natural environment, and how to enhance the built environment through the use of vegetation and other materials. Typical design considerations such as intersection characteristics, gateway elements, roadside design, roadway geometrics, and streetscape amenities present potential trade offs. The information offered in this document concerning these potential trade offs aids designers and planners in balancing these trade offs during the project development process to achieve a safe, efficient, and aesthetically appealing transportation facility.