Integrating Value Engineering and Context-Sensitive Solutions: The St. Clair Avenue West Transit Improvements Project

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - urban, mode - mass transit


Value engineering, Value analysis, Urban highways, Urban development, Transportation infrastructure, Transit improvement projects, Transit, Toronto (Canada), Road design, Public transit, Mass transit, Local transit, Highway design, Context sensitive solutions, Context sensitive design


The designers of transportation infrastructures are increasingly using the term “context-sensitive design” (CSD) or the broader term “context-sensitive solutions” (CSSs) to refer to a design process that strives to be more cognizant of its surrounding environment. Transportation infrastructures, especially in urban environments, are part of a much larger urban ecology that consists of a complex set of natural and human-made systems. As such, design guidelines that solely address engineering and safety considerations have proved themselves incapable of delivering street designs that respond to the functional requirements of the multitude of stakeholders within urban environments. Analysis of these requirements is a necessary first step for any successful CSD–CSS. In this regard, value engineering has been identified as a successful tool for product functional analysis. Several phases of value engineering overlap with the guiding principles of CSD–CSS. As such, this paper presents a value engineering framework that can be used for the analysis of the functional requirements of urban streets within a CSD–CSS approach. To place the proposed framework into context, a major transit improvement project in the city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, was studied. Seven of the main design elements were analyzed against the primary and secondary objectives identified by the value engineering process. Almost all objectives were attained by the design elements selected. The proposed framework and analysis of the case study show that the value engineering methodology can be efficiently used to address the needs of CSD design of urban streets.