Skip to content U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway AdministrationU.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration
Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)

Scenario Planning Publications and Resources


To view PDF files, you need the Acrobat® Reader®.

FHWA Scenario Planning Guidebook (October 2010). 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).

New Trends in Transportation and Land Use Scenario Planning (April, 2010) This report summarizes important findings from a literature review on scenario planning processes and a scan of stakeholders. It also presents case studies on innovative, 'next generation' scenario planning efforts. The project team defined next generation scenario planning efforts as those that seek to capture a broader range of issues and challenges than previously considered in transportation and land use scenario creation and analysis. The purpose of the report is to identify key issues and practices to provide direction for future scenario planning workshops. (PDF, 1.1MB)

Public Roads Magazine Article: Scenario Planning A New Paradigm in Transportation Decision Making (September 2005) This new paradigm for decisionmaking is helping communities and States prepare for the future.

Overview of Tools

Using a variety of tools and techniques, participants in scenario planning assess trends in key factors. They bring the factors together in alternative future scenarios, each reflecting different trend assumptions and tradeoff preferences. As a result of the process, all members of the region - the general public, business leaders and elected officials - strive to agree on a preferred scenario. This scenario becomes the long-term policy framework for the community's evolution, is used to guide decision-making and can be embodied in the long-range transportation plan.

There are a number of tools available to communities to help them tackle land use, community development, and environmental protection challenges. Here are four broad categories of decision support tools. These categories reflect critical steps of a successful community design and decision-making process-steps that ensure civic engagement and lead to informed decision making.

The following websites provide more detail on the four broad categories of decision support tools:

In addition, FHWA has other resources to assist those who are interested in pursuing scenario-planning applications. These are as follows:

Updated: 10/20/2015
HEP Home Planning Environment Real Estate
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000