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The CSS Role in a Changing Climate. Sandy Otto June 18, 2008 FHWA Environmental Conference. What is CSS?.

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the css role in a changing climate

The CSS Role in a Changing Climate

Sandy Otto

June 18, 2008

FHWA Environmental Conference

what is css
What is CSS?

CSS is a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach that involves all stakeholders to develop a transportation facility that fits its physical setting and preserves scenic, aesthetic, historic and environmental resources, while maintaining safety and mobility.

A CSS approach considers the total context within which a transportation project will exist.


In short, “finding the best fit.”


Demand for greater public participation

‘91 ISTEA , ‘95 NHS recognized flexibility in design

1997 FHWA Flexibility in Highway Design guidebook

1998 MD’s Thinking Beyond the Pavement

FLHD’s integrated CSS approaches

2004 AASHTO’s Bridging Documents

Expansion to NGO’s, public advocates and industry

excellent projects and processes
Excellent Projects and Processes
  • Purpose and need, scope agreed on by all stakeholders
  • Safe facilities for both the user and the community
  • In harmony with community and environmental values
  • Exceed expectations and add lasting value
  • Early, open and continuous communication
  • Process is tailored to meet the circumstances
  • Top agency and local leader commitment
  • The context is understood before engineering design is started.

AASHTO 2005 survey says:

#1 Resistance to change

#2 Perceived higher cost

#3 Lack of understanding of CSS

#4 Liability concerns

fiction css delays the project delivery process

FICTION: CSS delays the project delivery process.


CSS can expedite project delivery by “doing it right the first time”.

fiction css means we toss our standards

FICTION: CSS means we toss our standards.


CSS involves applying flexibility and sound engineering judgment to achieve a good design.

fiction css means we compromise safety

FICTION: CSS means we compromise safety.


CSS calls for safety to be considered equally with other decision factors.

css action plan
CSS Action Plan

Developed as part of a 4 month ‘detail’

Developed in concert with staff currently involved in corporate CSS activities

Sets strategic program direction

Identifies gaps in internal support and external outreach

Identifies resources needed to get the job done

internal communication and support
Internal Communication and Support

Identify barriers and cultivate buy in

Extend accountability

Develop staff for greater program capacity

Equip staff to support and facilitate state CSS efforts

Provide performance incentives

external outreach
External Outreach

Improve communication with AASHTO staff and members

Broad scale outreach to DOTs and other owners

Lead National Dialogue to stimulate demand, leverage support

Improve knowledge management

defining success
Defining Success

CSS integrated into project development processes

Improved project processes nationwide leading to decreased project cost and delay

Eventual transition to standard practice for project development

our message
Our Message

A message of implementation

Improves cost effectiveness of programs

Streamlines delivery of projects

Encourages safety dialogue with the public

An extension of FHWA stewardship responsibilities

Meets FHWA program and unit goals

what does your unit manager need from you
What does your unit manager need from you?
  • CSS can help meet her Project Delivery Goals
  • CSS can help meet her Environmental Streamlining goals
  • CSS can help to begin conversations about sustainable transportation
  • Your leadership in CSS can help to make this happen

What can we do to help you?

  • Research Projects
  • Technical Guidance Handbooks/Documents
  • Conferences, Workshops, Outreach, Advocacy
  • Technical Assistance
the css initiative
The CSS Initiative
  • Transitioning to new CSS Lead
  • CSS has FHWA top management support
  • Anticipating a higher profile with additional, committed resources