Context Sensitive Solutions
If communities have rights in transportation planning, they also have responsibilities. The principal responsibility is to have a vision for their community. If the community has spent the time planning for what kind of place it wants to be, it is prepared to respond constructively when a transportation agency proposes a project. Rather than just say “no” or else accept what’s proposed, they can make a proposal back to the agency — for re-alignment, for re-designed intersections, for widened sidewalks, etc., etc. CSS, properly practiced, promises to use transportation projects to improve a community — not just from the point of view of the motorist, but also from the point of view of the people who live there. The tremendous impact of transportation projects can be turned from what is frequently a negative force into a positive force.
A second responsibility is to play an active role in seeing that all stakeholders are involved in the planning process — and in educating them about the problems and opportunities associated with a transportation project. This is a job that can be done much better by community people than by the DOT. It is also an important tool for community people, because local elected officials have a key role in signing off on road projects, and they will respond to a large and well-organized constituency.