Figure A.

What is IDOT's goal for the project? - IDOT's goal is to make an improvement to IL 47 that improves safety and mobility for the traveling public, while seeking to preserve and enhance the scenic, economic, historic, and natural qualities.

The IL 47 Study involves preparing a Phase I Report - The Phase I Report will focus on alternatives analysis and environmental evaluation. Potential impacts to the resources (for up to three build alternatives) will be completed. The design of the Preferred Alternative will be modified to avoid and minimize impacts. If avoidance is not feasible, mitigation measures will be identified. The study will follow the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and IDOT’s Context Sensitive Solution (CSS) Guidelines to build consensus for improvements to be made on IL 47.

What is National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) - When a government agency (such as IDOT) plans to take an action that may have an effect on the human or natural environment, NEPA requires that an analysis of potential environmental effects be conducted. Within the Phase I process, all identified reasonable alternatives will be evaluated and potential social, economic, and environmental impacts will be avoided or minimized. Figure A shows the typical process for Phase I: Preliminary Design/Environmental Evaluation. Data such as safety concerns, social/cultural resources, economic development, surrounding land use, environmental resources, ROW requirements, aesthetic desires, and transportation needs is gathered from stakeholders about the project area. With public and agency input conceptual alternatives are developed to address the data which was collected. The concepts are further refined with continued input into the finalist alternates which will be studied in further detail. Finally, a recommended alternate is chosen which best addresses the inputs and feedback received from the community.

What is Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) – Context Sensitive solutions or CSS is an interdisciplinary approach that seeks effective, multimodal transportation solutions by working with stakeholders to develop, build and maintain cost-effective transportation facilities which fit into and reflect the project’s surroundings – its “context.” Through early, frequent, and meaningful communication with stakeholders, and a flexible and creative approach to design, the resulting projects should improve safety and mobility for the traveling public, while seeking to preserve and enhance the scenic, economic, historic, and natural qualities of the settings through which they pass.

“Context” as it applies to transportation projects can be defined as “all elements related to the people and place where a project is located.” This includes both visible elements such as environmental or historic resources and invisible elements such as community values, traditions, and expectations. While transportation agencies have experience dealing with the former, the latter “intangibles” can sometimes be more challenging to identify and work with for transportation professionals.

Context is identified through early and continuous collaboration with stakeholders. Stakeholders for a project include any person or organization which has a direct stake in the project being considered. This can be anything from a small group of residents and businesses affected by the redesign of a rural intersection to thousands of individuals when a major roadway or transit extension is being built. Stakeholders can include residents and landowners near a project, advocates for policy, community and historic interests, elected officials, government agencies, and many others. Stakeholders should be involved from the early stages of the project, especially before major decisions are made. The form and frequency of the contacts with stakeholders will be determined by the individual transportation issues involved. It is important to have a systematic method for reaching out so that representatives of all possible individual stakeholders can be organized and can communicate clearly with the transportation agency.

CSS seeks to ensure that stakeholders’ views are carefully considered in the decision-making process. The information gained from partnering with stakeholders is then used by the transportation agency to develop an informed solution to the transportation issue and to plan and design transportation projects that “fit” into their surroundings.

Since these issues can be complex, the CSS process works as a partnership between IDOT and stakeholders to come up with working solutions to our transportation needs. Stakeholders help IDOT understand their needs for, and concerns about, our transportation system. IDOT can then take this input, along with all of its other work and analysis, and use it to make planning and design decisions.

IDOT still must make the ultimate choices about a project. Safety, the integrity of the transportation system, and good stewardship of the public's transportation dollars all remain IDOT's responsibilities. However, thorough stakeholder involvement can contribute to these decisions, and lead to a general consensus about the choices made.

To learn about IDOT’s continuing efforts to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Illinois, visit the IDOT Context Sensitive Solutions website.

What is a consensus – Consensus is achieved when a majority of the stakeholders agree on a particular issue, while the dissenting remainder of stakeholders, agree its input has been heard and duly considered. And that the process as a whole was fair.

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