The context of a roadway is a critical factor to consider in developing a project’spurpose and need, making fundamental design decisions such as cross-sectiondetermination, and selecting detailed design elements such as street light fixturesor other construction materials. Development of a roadway design that is sensitiveto, and respectful of the surrounding context is important for project success.Historically, the highway design process has focused on a project’s transportationelement, particularly those associated with motor vehicle travel. A context-sensitive design should begin with analysis of the contextual elements, such asenvironmental and community resources, of the area through which a roadwaypasses. The concept of area types has been developed to help the designerunderstand the users, constraints, and opportunities that may be encountered indifferent settings. Once the designer has an understanding of the area surroundingthe road and the road’s users, the designer should consider the transportationelements of the roadway, its function within the regional transportation system,and the appropriate level of access control. Thus, three main elements of contextconsidered in design are :a.
– The surrounding built and natural environmentb.
– The role the roadway plays in terms of providing regionalconnectivity and local accessc.
– The degree of connection or separation between theroadway and the surrounding land use.
The context of a roadway begins with its environmental context, which includesnearby natural resources, terrain, and the manmade environment (developmentpatterns, historic, cultural, and recreational assets). The environmental contextcan be a determinant of the desired type of accommodation for different users.This context often establishes the physical constraints of the roadway alignmentand cross-section, and influences the selection of motor vehicle design speed. Aroadway frequently traverses a variety of changing environs. Additionally, thevolume and character of pedestrian, bicycle, public transit, and motor vehicleactivity can change considerably along its route. Land use is the fundamentaldeterminant in the function of a road; as land use changes along a road, theroad's functions also change. Roadway must be designed in a manner that servesthe existing land use while supporting the community's future land use goals.