Case Studies

PA & NJ: Context-Sensitive Design

In 2008, the Pennsylvania and New Jersey departments of transportation, in collaboration with the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, published The Smart Transportation Guidebook. The publication provided the framework for updating all other DOT processes around six tenants: Adapt solutions to the context, tailor the approach, plan projects with community collaboration, accommodate alternative transportation modes, use sound professional judgment, and scale the solution to the size of the problem. The guidebook played a strong role in shaping updates to PennDOT’s Design Manual Part 1 and 2. The updated procedures emphasized design flexibility based on surrounding land uses and street users. The new design processes now encourage engineers to consider the needs of all road users in addition to their surrounding land uses and integrate them into designs. As a result, more than one project could be reevaluated using Smart Transportation principles and redesigned for vehicle speeds and street geometry more suitable to the cyclists and pedestrians who would be sharing the roadway.

This material is the product of a partnership between America Walks and Sam Schwartz Engineering. Visit here for more information on the partnership.