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Scenario Planning

Welcome to the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Scenario Planning website. Here you can learn about noteworthy practices and innovative uses of Scenario Planning applications for transportation planning, explore other Scenario Planning Resources and learn who to contact in FHWA about particular Scenario Planning questions or issues.

What is Scenario Planning?

Scenario planning is an analytical tool that can help transportation professionals prepare for what lies ahead. Scenario planning provides a framework for developing a shared vision for the future by analyzing various forces (e.g., health, transportation, economic, environmental, land use, etc.) that affect growth. Scenario planning, which can be done at the statewide level or for metropolitan regions, tests various future alternatives that meet state and community needs. A defining characteristic of successful public sector scenario planning is that it actively involves the public, the business community, and elected officials on a broad scale, educating them about growth trends and trade-offs, and incorporating their values and feedback into future plans.

Scenario Planning Technical Assistance Available

FHWA and FTA are updating USDOT's approach to providing scenario planning assistance to state Departments of Transportation (DOTs), metropolitan/regional planning organizations (M/RPOs), and other transportation decision-makers. We encourage you to monitor this website for forthcoming opportunities to apply for federal resources to support your agency's scenario planning efforts.  For more information on FHWA scenario planning technical assistance opportunities, please visit the Scenario Planning Technical Assistance Page

FHWA Scenario Planning Guidebooks

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FHWA Supporting Performance-Based Planning and Programming through Scenario Planning (June 2016). The purpose of this guidebook is to addresses how scenario planning can be used to support and advance the practice of performance-based planning and programming (PBPP). This guidebook in a companion to the FHWA Scenario Planning Guidebook. Scenario planning can use metrics, models, data sets, and tools to estimate and evaluate scenarios based on their ability to maximize system performance and support achievement of goals and performance targets. The guidebook presents a framework for connecting established scenario planning processes with the four phases of PBPP: direction, analysis, programming, and implementation. Three case studies provide examples of agencies of varying sizes that have used scenario planning in innovative ways to advance the practice of PBPP. A section and appendix of scenario planning and performance measurement tools that can be used in, or incorporated into, scenario planning is also provided. (PDF 8MB)

Scenario Planning Guidebook.

FHWA Scenario Planning Guidebook (February 2011). The purpose of this guidebook is to assist transportation agencies with carrying out a scenario planning process from start to finish. Transportation agencies can use the guidebook as a framework to develop a scenario planning approach tailored to their needs. The guidebook provides detailed information on the six key phases that agencies are likely to encounter when implementing a scenario planning process. For each phase, the guidebook provides considerations, steps, examples, and strategies to help guide agencies in managing and implementing a comprehensive scenario planning effort. While this guidebook focuses on regional scenario planning, it recognizes that scenario planning is flexible and can be used to address many different issues at multiple scales, such as at the statewide level. (PDF, 1.29MB).

Updated: 7/27/2016
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