Defining Community Context

What is Community Context? | About This Project | Questions | Selecting the Right Tools

What is Community Context?

Transcript (PDF:64KB)

Community Context is the setting and circumstances in which transportation decisions are made. It includes the surrounding physical features like buildings, parks, landmarks, wildlife habitats, streams and air quality.

The community members are also part of context: who lives there, how they interact with one another, and their perceptions about their community and their quality of life.

Context includes the goals of the community and what they envision for their future, including their future transportation system. Understanding community context provides critical information about how a community functions, and in turn, how it needs its transportation system to function, both today and in the future.

Watch the video to learn about community context and how the public was invited to participate in this project.

About This Project

This project, Defining Community Context in Transportation Project Planning and Development Process, collected and compiled tools and methods from many disciplines including public health, community development, environmental science, landscape architecture, historic preservation, urban design and architecture. Tools used by community members and neighborhood organizations were also included in order to benefit from as many perspectives as possible. The goal of this project was to provide practitioners with a wide range of tools that could help define and describe community context in a way that shapes transportation decisions so that projects are planned, developed, and delivered to be in harmony with community context.

This project is part of the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), a program that is sponsored by the state departments of transportation and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), and administered by the Transportation Research Board (TRB). It was carried out by the Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE), a transportation research center based at North Carolina State University, partnered with the consulting firm The Louis Berger Group.

This research was developed and funded at the request of AASHTO's Standing Committee on the Environment (SCOE). SCOE is a resource to state highway and transportation departments for timely information, research, and best practices in air quality, cultural resources, environmental process, and natural systems and ecological communities. The completed report may be found at



If you have questions, please contact

©2022. The Center for Transportation and the Environment at North Carolina State University.