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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Ongoing Planning, Environment, and Realty Research

The Office of Planning, Environment, and Realty's (HEP) research activities support program and policy objectives that help the FHWA create the best transportation system in the world. The research primarily addresses topics associated with comprehensive intermodal and multimodal transportation planning, enhancement of community and social benefits of highway transportation, and improvements to the quality of the natural and human environment—by reducing highway-related impacts and by protecting and enhancing ecosystems. Additionally, research on the fair and prudent acquisition and management of real property is carried out. Research is categorized under three disciplines and further divided into five offices: Planning, Project Development and Environmental Review, Human Environment, Natural Environment, and Real Estate Services.

Context Sensitive Design

The Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) is a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach that involves all stakeholders in developing a transportation facility that fits its physical setting and preserves scenic, aesthetic, historic, and environmental resources while maintaining safety and mobility. CSS is an approach that considers the total context within which a transportation improvement project will exist. For more information, visit the new CSS webpage.

Pedestrian and Accessible Design

The Office of Program Administration is concerned with the design of the pedestrian environment in the public right-of-way for individuals with disabilities. Curb cut ramps for wheelchair users have been required at pedestrian crossings on Federal-aid projects for many years. The Department of Justice and the Department of Transportation (USDOT) have adopted the Americans With Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) as standards. These accessibility standards currently only apply to buildings and sites.