Describe the overall objectives of the project. Emphasize integration of Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) early in the planning and design process. Primary objective is to provide design guidance.
This recommended practice (RP) was a joint effort between ITE and the Congress for the New Urbanism. It was initiated to meld the practices of transportation planning and engineering with urban planning and design. The report was funded by FHWA’s Office of Planning, Environment and Realty’s Surface Transportation Environment and Planning Cooperative Research Program and the Environmental Protection Agency. Both agencies played an active role in its development.
The report was the result of a multidisciplinary team of engineers, planners, architects, land use planners, landscape architects, and urban designers, and before its publication the report was reviewed by over 60 professionals from multiple disciplines.
The RP is intended to provide design guidance for context sensitive thoroughfares. It briefly covers the basic tenets of CSS and how these principles are integrated into the planning and project development processes at three levels…the network, corridor, and the individual project such as a roadway segment. The RP introduces a design framework to 1) describe a systematic approach to the stages of design, and 2) describe the elements of thoroughfares and surrounding context to help define compatibility. The guidance in the RP is consistent with the guidance provided in the AASHTO green book.
It is important to emphasize that the RP focuses on a very specific aspect of transportation…“major urban thoroughfares in walkable areas.” The definition of major as it relates to the RP includes arterial and collector streets. The report does not include limited access, high speed, freeways, expressways, or parkways, nor does it include local streets. The term “Urban” covers a broad spectrum of metropolitan areas from walkable suburbs to city centers. In the RP, urban refers to areas, whether they already exist or are a goal for the future that have a mix of land uses and activities. Areas that are compact and integrated enough to make non-automobile travel an attractive way to get around.
There are several definitions of CSS, but all revolve around a basic set of principles or tenets as shown here. Thoroughfare design based on these tenets is intended to be a collaborative, interdisciplinary process that balances many different, and often conflicting, objectives. The ultimate objective is to design a safe street for all users, a street that contributes to, and becomes part of, the context, and a street that fully supports the activities generated by the adjacent land uses.
There are many benefits to integrating CSS principles into transportation projects…these are just a few. The application of CSS principles in planning and design can make the difference between a successful project valued by the community and an embattled project taking years or even decades to complete.
Simulation is one way to illustrate the integration of transportation design into the creation of a place. In this example, the goal of this community is to create a vibrant and economically vital place that has lasting value. This requires a integration of land use, urban design, and transportation design and a combination of public and private investments.
The transportation investment might look like this. It can include vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements, and streetscape and landscaping in the public right of way. The transportation design helps forms an armature for a place…but is it a place? Not yet.
It becomes a place when the transportation and land use contexts are combined and integrated in a compatible way. Note how the buildings orient to the thoroughfare and how the privately-owned areas transition into the publicly-owned areas forming a plaza. [Use pointer] The automobile is accommodated, but prioritized by mode. For example, parking is provided in the rear or under the building, separated from the pedestrian realm making the place easily accessible for all users.
Contents divided into planning and design. Review broad subject matter of the major divisions.
Describe that different users will use the RP in different ways. -Engineers and planners for guidance -Design professionals for understanding relationship between thoroughfares and land use, site, and building design -Stakeholders for education and ideas
Describe how the basic transportation planning process relates to the project development process. Indicate that CSS principles can be integrated into any or all of the transportation planning steps and that CSS early in the process helps expedite the project development process.
Stress that CSS does not change the conventional transportation planning process as shown in this flowchart. Explain that CSS complements the transportation planning process by emphasizing a multidisciplinary and collaborative approach to develop and evaluate a broad spectrum of possible solutions…solutions that attempt to balance all stakeholder interests. Highlight the point that because it is difficult and often not possible to fully balance all interests, CSS ensures a clear assessment and understanding of trade-offs, a critical element if consensus is to be achieved. Point out some of the other benefits and outcomes of CSS…particularly as an opportunity to educate, and to go beyond simply meeting the transportation objectives, but as an opportunity to enhance the community or environment.
This next segment describes how CSS principles are integrated into the transportation planning and project development process. The Recommended Practice covers this topic comprehensively so we will only touch upon a couple of steps as examples. The transportation planning process begins by establishing a vision and goals for both the community and the transportation system or project. Applying CSS principles during the development of a vision and goals helps stakeholders and the community focus on issues to be resolved and to agree on a planning process. This step sets the stage for developing the all important needs statement and agreeing upon the “right problem” to solve. Possible outcomes of this step are listed here.
Another step in the transportation planning process is the evaluation of alternatives. CSS encourages objective evaluation of the tradeoffs between different alternatives, always relating back to agreed upon evaluation criteria. As a result, stakeholders will be better able to support and endorse plans and designs. The possible outcomes of this step are listed here.
Project Development is one of the final steps of the transportation planning process. It is in the project development stage when many of the guidelines in this RP are put to use.
Recall the slides on transportation and corridor planning and how those processes relate to project development. Describe that the details of thoroughfare design (and much of the guidance in the RP) occur in the project development stage. Highlighted boxes show project development stages.
Stress that CSS does not change the conventional transportation planning process as shown in this flowchart. Explain that CSS complements the transportation planning process by emphasizing a multidisciplinary and collaborative approach to develop and evaluate a broad spectrum of possible solutions…solutions that attempt to balance all stakeholder interests. Highlight the point that because it is difficult and often not possible to fully balance all interests, CSS ensures a clear assessment and understanding of trade-offs, a critical element if consensus is to be achieved. Point out some of the other benefits and outcomes of CSS…particularly as an opportunity to educate and to go beyond simply meeting the transportation objectives, but as an opportunity to enhance the community or environment.
Describe that corridor planning is the step between long-range planning and project development. It is in the corridor planning stage that many of the policies and broad design parameters for individual thoroughfares are established. Discuss that corridor planning is an opportunity to address issues and challenges with a broader scope than during the design of an individual thoroughfare, and then point out some of the planning issues that can be addressed at the corridor scale.
Describe the basic corridor planning process and emphasize that this process is very similar to the conventional transportation planning process. Emphasize where public and stakeholder involvement occurs and that these are key steps in establishing the design of the thoroughfare and building consensus. Discuss that early public/stakeholder buy-in to design concepts and project needs and objectives during the corridor planning process can avoid or minimize challenges and obstacles during the design stage of project development.
Reiterate that often the problems experienced at the thoroughfare level can be resolved at the scale of the network. E.g., providing parallel network capacity can reduce congestion on individual thoroughfares. Describe how network planning integrates land use, transportation, and urban form: -Establishes the framework upon which land use and urban form are built -Provides the connectivity that links land uses together -Establishes the scale and resolution of the urban area (e.g., block sizes are established by the network and define walkability). Point out some of the important elements when considering connectivity.
Discuss the different types of networks. Most network types can be classified as either dendritic or traditional grid. If time allows, you may go into the history of the conventional dendritic network design. A good source of this is: Southworth, Michael and Ben-Joseph, Eran. &quot;Street Standards and the Shaping of Suburbia,&quot; JAPA, Vol. 61, No. 1, Winter 1995, pp. 65-81. Describe the basic nature/characteristics of each network type: Dendritic: curvilinear, circuitous, cul-de-sacs, designed to isolate neighborhoods, reduces cut-through traffic, based on conventional functional class which channels traffic from lower order to high order streets Grid: orthangonal or non-orthagonal grid, shorter block lengths, disperses traffic, multiple routes, compact, etc.
Discuss that there have been attempts at creating combinations of dendritic and grid networks, such as this example.
Review the fundamental benefits of connectivity. As a course discussion, you may want to open the discussion to the participants and discuss the pros and cons of connectivity.
Designing Walkable Urban Thoroughfares: A Context Sensitive Approach An ITE Recommended Practice Part 1 of 3