Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) Overview


Purpose of the CSS

The CSS Guidance page provides information, guidance and tools to implement Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) on the I-70 Mountain Corridor. It supports project managers and Project Leadership Teams in guiding a project through the CSS decision-making process.

It provides corridor background through:

  • An index of resource maps
  • Connections to the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) resource data
  • Lists of stakeholder comments
  • Links to stakeholder sites (e.g., local communities)
  • Relevant corridor agreements (e.g., A Landscape Level Inventory of Valued Ecosystems Memorandum of Understanding (ALIVE MOU)

What is CSS?

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) defines context sensitive solutions as follows:

"Context Sensitive Solutions 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. CSS is an approach that considers the total context within which a transportation improvement project will exist. CSS principles include the employment of early, continuous, and meaningful involvement of the public and all stakeholders throughout the project development process."

Why CSS?

CDOT issued a policy directive to implement CSS as a business model in 2005.

A programmatic agreement was executed in 2008 to implement CSS on the I-70 Mountain Corridor.

Through the CSS process and team approach, CDOT gains an understanding and appreciation of community values and strives to incorporate or address these in the evolution of projects.

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CDOT's Role In CSS

  • Fulfill CDOT's mission
  • Listen to and work with stakeholders
  • Respect the communities affected
  • Abide by federal and state laws and regulations

CDOT and FHWA Commitment to CSS

All projects on the I-70 Mountain Corridor will be guided by the Context Statement and Core Values.

All projects on the I-70 Mountain Corridor will have a Project Leadership Team and will follow the 6-Step Process.

Key Components of the CSS Guidance

  • Context Statement and Core Values
  • Life Cycle Phases and 6-Step Process
  • Strategies and resources for CSS implementation
  • Background data on the I-70 Mountain Corridor
  • Engineering Criteria and Aesthetic Guidance
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Navigating the Guidance

To familiarize yourself with the CSS Guidance Web site:

  • Review the Context Statement and Core Values
  • Identify the Life Cycle Phase within which you are working
  • Review the 6-Step Process
  • Review tasks associated with your Life Cycle Phase
  • Follow the links to find additional information
  • Review the information in the Must See, Must Do box

Use the back button on your Web browser to return to a previous page within the CSS Guidance Web site.

Using the Interactive Maps

  • The Interactive Maps provide resource data by location and references to the PEIS
  • Use the maps to access background data and initiate scoping
  • User guidance is provided when you enter the Interactive Maps area

Must See, Must Do

This box located on the right side of the page provides links to critically important information and tools needed to implement CSS.

Links are shown as webpages, documents or links.

Nice to Know

This box provides links to information that may be helpful or provides background on the subject page.

CSS on the I-70 Mountain Corridor

  • Corridor Guidance contains links to CSS Guidance and documents.
  • Lessons Learned shares experiences with CSS.
  • Partnerships shares stories of project partnerships.


The CSS Guidance provides overarching design principles that apply to the entire I-70 Mountain Corridor. The principles are intended to guide the desired outcomes of individual projects as they pertain to the following:

  • Corridor Design Character
  • Integrated and Complete Design
  • Partnerships to Create the Corridor
  • Using the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement

Further detailed engineering criteria, aesthetic design guidance, and areas with special design challenges are included in:

  • Design Criteria for Engineering the I-70 Mountain Corridor
  • Aesthetic Guidance for the I-70 Mountain Corridor
  • Areas of Special Attention on the I-70 Mountain Corridor

Life Cycle Phases

CDOT uses five phases throughout the state to plan, design, construct, maintain, and operate its facilities.

On the I-70 Mountain Corridor, CDOT defines the five Life Cycles phases as:

  • I-70 Mountain Corridor Planning
  • Project Development
  • Project Design
  • Project Construction
  • I-70 Mountain Corridor Operations, Maintenance, and Monitoring

Each phase has its own set of requirements and expectations, and the products developed at each phase provide inputs to the subsequent phases.

6-Step Process

  • The 6-Step Process is used for all studies and projects in the I-70 Mountain Corridor.
  • The steps are intended to provide a clear and repeatable process that is fair and understandable.
  • The order of the steps is as important as the activities within each step.

Following the 6-Step Process

  • The 6-Step Process ensures consistency in how studies and projects are conducted.
  • The 6-Step Process is scalable to the scope and nature of the project.
    • On smaller projects, steps can be combined into a single meeting.
    • On National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) projects, the 6 Steps are consistent with and can be incorporated into NEPA requirements.

Project Leadership Team (PLT)

  • All projects and studies will establish a PLT.
  • The PLT is a collaborative stakeholder team that focuses on the decision-making process and moving the process forward.
  • The PLT's primary roles are to:
    • Move the project forward
    • Champion CSS
    • Enable decision making

Community Representatives on the PLT

  • PLTs will include representatives from the community(ies).
  • These representatives should be designated by the community(ies).
  • Community representatives on the PLT will share the responsibility for:
    • Leading the project
    • Championing CSS
    • Enabling decision making
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