California Department of Transportation

Context Sensitive Solutions

Purpose of this website

Quality transportation design is the culmination of philosophy and principles in the project development process that provides a transportation system that enhances the place in which it serves. Whether a project is in an urban, rural or natural setting, the transportation facility must be in harmony with the community goals and the natural environment. The purpose of this website is to provide Caltrans designers and its partners with department policy, guidance and examples to ensure the protection and enhancement of the environment and quality of life while meeting the multi-modal transportation needs in California.

Director's Policy on Context Sensitive Solutions

Caltrans Implementation Plan for Context Sensitive Solutions

Complete Streets - Integrating the Transportation System

Highway Design Manual Philosophy:

The Highway Design Manual philosophy mirrors the concepts of Context Sensitive Solutions. This philosophy for the project development process seeks to provide a degree of mobility to users of the transportation system that is in balance with other values. Caltrans policies, practices, or mandatory design standards provides a guide for highway designers to exercise sound judgment in applying the policies, practices, or standards consistent with this philosophy. This flexibility is the foundation of highway design and highway designers must strive to provide for the needs of all highway users in balance with the needs of the local community and the context of the project. Caltrans policies, practices or mandatory design standards allows sufficient flexibility in order to encourage independent designs that fit the needs of each situation.

Application of Standards: The policies, practices or mandatory design standards used for any project should meet the minimum guidance given to the maximum extent feasible, but the philosophy provides for the use of nonstandard design when such use best satisfies the concerns of a given situation. Deviations from the Caltrans policies, practices or mandatory design standards requires review and approval for nonstandard design through the exception process (see Index 82.2 of the Highway Design Manual) and should be discussed early in the planning and design process.

Main Streets: Flexibility in Design and Operations - updated 1/2005

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has a number of policies that encourage designers to respond to community values where state highways serve as main streets. This booklet identifies design opportunities that a local community may desire in the context of their downtown while assuring safe and efficient operations for pedestrians, bicyclists, vehicles and highway workers.

Caltrans Journal Articles on Context Sensitive Solutions:

District Newsletters with Context Sensitive Solutions: Articles:

Links to Other Websites for Information Regarding Context Sensitive Solutions:

This page last updated December 8, 2009