Context Sensitive (Design) Solutions (CSS)
5 Issues for an Executive Order
--From Turquoise Trail CAC, Oct. 20, 2003
1. Establish statewide CSS policy that makes context-sensitive design the norm rather than the exception.
--Educate all NMDOT Administrators and Professional Engineers through a comprehensive formal training program.
--Charge an experienced, qualified coordinator with implementing the policy.
--Ensure that transportation budgeting sets a priority on repair and maintenance, and is based on life-cycle planning and costing.
Experience can be drawn from Federal Highway Administration suggested practices, forthcoming AASHTO CSS guidelines, training programs run by the University of Kentucky, and other states that have adopted CSS.
2. Base CSS on a multi-disciplinary approach to defining communities and environment, drawing on the skills of community planners, landscape architects and environmental scientists, as well as Professional Engineers. The definition of community context and values and the definition of environmental context must be equally important as purely engineering considerations. Traffic projections used for CSS design must be based on genuine development plans, not merely on simple trend projections.
3. Base safety standards on current research that takes driver psychology and traffic calming into account. Traffic calming has achieved broad-based acceptance throughout the United States during the past decade, learning from thirty years of experience in Europe and Australia. Research has proven that traffic calming makes roads safer, reduces accidents, and reduces the severity of accidents. Traffic calming for rural highways is in its infancy in the U.S., but research by Robert Nolan clearly shows that wider lanes cause higher speeds and less safe roads. New Mexico, whose rural roads are also often neighborhood roads, needs to take the lead in developing ways to calm traffic on its scenic roads to make them safer for people who use them daily, as well as for visitors to the state.
4. Scenic roads should not be straightened and widened to accommodate trucks and oversized vehicles. A context sensitive solution approach needs to be developed that identifies scenic road routes and design standards, and also provides trucking routes on non-scenic highways so that conflict between these two important transportation goals is eliminated. Reasonable local delivery that does not lead to road redesign should be permitted on scenic roads.
5. Direct NMDOT to bring all current projects into line with context-sensitive design, even if this requires temporary reconsiderations in bidding projects designed under former guidelines. In particular, direct NMDOT to investigate possibilities for greater context sensitivity based on rerouting trucks off of scenic highways (see point 4).
To: Portions of the Turquoise Trail lost! To Group's Actions To Resources for Saving America's Rural Roads and Communities--a listing.