New Trends in Transportation and Land Use Scenario Planning
Appendix C. Case Studies
Case Study 1: Cheyenne MPO, City of Cheyenne, and Laramie County, Wyoming (for PlanCheyenne)
PlanCheyenne is the Cheyenne Area Master Plan. The effort was undertaken by the Cheyenne, WY, Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), in coordination with the City of Cheyenne, City Parks and Recreation Division, and Laramie County. The PlanCheyenne effort involved an update of the city's comprehensive plan, transportation plan, and parks and recreation plan. The Cheyenne MPO's planning area is at the edge of the zone of influence of Denver and Colorado Springs (see Figure 1) and serves a population of 79,000.
Figure 1. Map of Cheyenne and surrounding area.
The Cheyenne MPO did not have previous experience with scenario planning, but chose this approach based on its observation of the success of the Envision Utah scenario planning effort. The agency noted that scenario planning was a useful educational tool for the public to see the effects of density.
Summary of Scenario Planning Effort
The PlanCheyenne team engaged stakeholders in developing and evaluating alternative growth scenarios during two workshops in the spring of 2005. The effort showed participants the linkages among development density, roadway costs, and open space. The total cost of the PlanCheyenne effort was approximately $380,000; in addition, the agency dedicated one staff member to managing the project.
The scenarios developed included:
- Current Comprehensive Plan. This scenario represented business-as-usual growth and transportation investment. New residential development was predominantly low-density single family. New rural ranchette development continued on five-acre or larger lots. New commercial development was low intensity and oriented to automobiles. The plan did not address open space or natural resources conservation in a significant way.
- Urban Service Areas/Rural Conservation. Development was most compact in this scenario, with most new development occurring in the urban service area. New residential development was predominantly single-family, but included a greater variety of other housing types than the current comprehensive plan. This scenario focused on clustering urban residential development to conserve large, contiguous ranch land and natural and cultural resources.
- Neighborhoods and Activity Centers. Development in urban areas was focused in neighborhoods and districts around centers where activities such as shopping and offices were more intensive. The activity centers were pedestrian-oriented and include parks, plazas and other civic focuses.
The MPO and consulting team held several public meetings at which six groups of participants were given a base map showing existing development and were then asked to assign forecast growth to the map using cardboard game pieces. Groups were given a set of game pieces that reflected either "business as usual" growth, growth focused in urban areas, or growth focused in neighborhoods and activity centers. Participants were free to exchange game pieces to achieve various density and open space preservation objectives.
The PlanCheyenne team considered using CommunityViz for the scenario planning effort, but later decided that the software was too complex and cumbersome to be efficient for this effort.
The MPO provided the land use parameters for the business as usual, urban areas, and neighborhood/activity center scenarios to a transportation consultant who modeled each of these scenarios using the travel demand forecasting model. Because the transportation network for each scenario was financially constrained, the model included the existing system and programmed improvements.
The model results allowed public stakeholders to evaluate the congestion impacts of each scenario. In addition, scenarios were compared based on the provision of open space and parks areas, ranchland conserved, the potential for multimodal travel opportunities, and community identity and livability. The scenario evaluation highlighted the links between infrastructure costs and development density and open space.
A modified version of the Neighborhood/Activity Center scenario was selected as the preferred scenario (see Figure 2).
Figure 2. Draft preferred PlanCheyenne scenario.
Outcomes: Implementing the Preferred Scenario
PlanCheyenne was finalized in November 2006. The City of Cheyenne is currently re-writing its development code in a unified format that includes land use, subdivision, street and sited design standards. The development code will be consistent with the recommendations in PlanCheyenne.
City staff also reported that they are beginning to see new types of development that are consistent with the development envisioned in the preferred scenario.
Key findings from the PlanCheyenne effort included:
- Public analysis of complex issues. PlanCheyenne used scenario planning to engage citizens in a discussion about the links between development patterns, open space, and transportation costs. It helped put a complicated, jargon-filled discussion into terms that everyone could understand. This was the first time that many citizens had engaged in these issues and scenario planning was a very valuable tool for letting citizens express preferences and make trade-offs. By making the issues accessible and facilitating open dialogue, the scenario planning built credibility for the plan and staff as well.
- Development of financial constraint requirement. The financial constraint requirement for the transportation model was instrumental in the selection of a preferred scenario that involved higher density development. It was noted that the results of the transportation modeling—which showed that Cheyenne could not afford the pace of road-building required to sustain trendline development—was one of the main forces spurring selection of the neighborhood scenario.
- Combining funding sources enabled a more comprehensive analysis. Combining funds for transportation, land use and parks and recreation planning helped the small MPO build a large enough budget to support more extensive consulting services, public involvement and modeling. The Parks and Recreation division expressed interest in being involved as it had not been able to conduct its own comprehensive plan. Combining transportation and land use planning with parks planning is helping the Cheyenne region develop a systematic, connected greenway system, and allowed for proactive park development.
- The supplementary funding sources also gave the PlanCheyenne team the flexibility to include elements of the plan that could not be funded with federal transportation funds. For example, Federal transportation funds could not be used to fund the analysis of open space preservation, so Parks and Recreation funds were used to fund this element of the plan.
Challenges of Scenario Planning
Key challenges of scenario planning identified by PlanCheyenne team members:
- Scenario planning is complex. It was difficult to communicate the idea and purpose of scenario planning to city council, city staff, and the public.
- Defining the scope of the project was a challenge. It was difficult to provide enough guidance to limit the scenarios developed at public workshops without dictating what those scenarios should be.
- Evaluation of GHG emissions is not currently a community-level conversation due to the region's clean air. In addition, Cheyenne is an air quality attainment area, so air quality modeling is not required.
Cheyenne Area Master Plan website with links to the final plan and information about the process and outcome: www.plancheyenne.com
5 For more information on PlanCheyenne, see http://www.plancheyenne.com/.
6 For more information on Envision Utah, see http://www.envisionutah.org/.