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FHWA Scenario Planning Guidebook

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

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 presents the six key phases that agencies are likely to encounter when implementing the scenario planning process:

Many transportation agencies, including state Departments of Transportation (DOTs), metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), and rural planning organizations (RPOs), have already applied scenario planning techniques in their communities. Each scenario planning approach is unique; the specific topics or issues addressed will depend on the resources available and other factors, such as the size and location of the community. The guidebook is designed to provide an overall structure for scenario planning.

The framework's six phases are illustrated on page 6. For each phase, the guidebook provides questions, considerations, steps, and strategies to help guide agencies in managing and implementing a comprehensive scenario planning effort. The guidebook also describes potential outputs from each phase. While this guidebook focuses on regional-scale scenario planning processes, it recognizes that scenario planning is flexible and can be used for a statewide, corridor-level, or neighborhood-scale approach.

While the phases are organized linearly, they might be iterative or occur at the same time. For example, agencies could present analysis results to the public as part of Phases 5 or 6. Depending on the feedback received, agencies could return to Phases 4 and 5 to refine or enhance scenarios, revise indicators, and conduct further analysis. As indicated by the left-hand tabs, data collection, identification and refinement of analysis tools, and stakeholder involvement will likely occur during several phases.

The guidebook assists transportation agencies with using scenario planning to address transportation issues, land-use changes, population growth or declining growth, as well as other topics that are important to the state, region, community, or study area, including climate change and uses of alternative energy. The latter topics are starting to be considered in scenario planning, and this guidebook can assist agencies in these efforts. Using the scenario planning technique, transportation agencies can make better decisions about how to develop a transportation system that responds to a wide range of factors and trends.

Updated: 10/17/2011
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