Context Sensitive Solutions & Complete Streets

The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) strives to build roadways that better the quality of life for Marylanders. 

In 2011, MDOT SHA finalized a policy to reach that goal: Complete Streets. The aim is to balance the safety and efficiency of roads with access to other modes of transportation, facilities for bikes and pedestrians and other community needs. You can find a copy of our Complete Streets Policy here.

Complete Streets is MDOT SHA’s second generation policy for a developmental approach known as Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS). Historically, roads and transportation systems were often placed with just one goal in mind:  connecting one place to another as efficiently as possible. We now know that there’s much more to roads than moving traffic from point A to point B. In the 1990s, federal and state governments began looking at how roads impact residences, economies, ecosystems and general quality of life, resulting in this broader view of transportation development.

CSS is an integrated approach to building transportation networks.  It involves project stakeholders from various professions and points of view who work together to find the best solution for a proposed project. Project stakeholders include environmental agencies, community groups, businesses, and local governments. CSS depends on early and active partnerships with these stakeholders.

MDOT SHA led development of the first implementation of CSS, Thinking Beyond the Pavement (TBTP). In TBTP, all stakeholders joined to develop projects that were functional, safe, fit the physical setting and preserved scenic, aesthetic, historic and environmental resources. The strategy aligns transportation planning with land use, transportation needs, and economic development decisions to make communities functional, vibrant places to work and live.

Since we initiated TBTP in the 1990s, our communities and how we think about their roads have evolved. Each project gives us new insights on best practices for CSS and helps us improve our process. The CSS policy statement, Complete Streets, captures lessons learned and moves Maryland towards a more livable transportation system.

For information concerning Context Sensitive Solutions, Thinking Beyond the Pavement, and Complete Streets, contact:

Office of Highway Development

​​Maryland State Highway Administration
707 North Calvert Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21202
Phone: 410-545-8800 
Fax: 410-209-5001