FHWA Scenario Planning Guidebook
Phase 1. How Should We Get Started?
Scope the effort and engage partners.
Scenario Planning Duration and Cost
The duration and cost of a scenario planning effort depend on a number of factors, including:
- The agency's specific goals for using scenario planning.
- External timelines associated with other planning processes.
- Level and type of public involvement.
- Agency staff size and capabilities.
- Development of analysis tools.
- Access to data.
Agencies participating in FHWA scenario planning workshops have reported that a typical regional scenario planning effort could take between six months and two years, but the process could be longer if the region or study area is very large or complex.
Scenario planning costs can range significantly, from $50,000 or less for a small effort to $5 million or more for a large effort coordinated by several agencies.*
* Cambridge Systematics. "State-of-the-Practice Alternative Land Use and Transportation Scenario Development: A Review of Eight Metropolitan Planning Organization Case Studies" (2009). Available at www.oregon.gov/ODOT/TD/TP/docs/HB2186page/USScenarios.pdf.
Phase 1 focuses on initiating a scenario planning effort by identifying the major objectives of the process and the resources needed to support the effort. Phase 1 also engages partners and identifies ways to integrate scenario planning into existing agency policies and programs. Scenario planning does not need to be a separate effort but can be integrated into ongoing activities, such as work to update the metropolitan transportation plan or the long-range transportation plan.
There are several steps to Phase 1. Agencies should identify:
Each step is listed on the next page, along with associated key questions that agencies can consider. Some steps provide examples of additional issues or questions for further consideration.
Integrating Scenario Planning into Transportation Planning
Scenario planning can be integrated into transportation planning processes in different ways:
- As a preliminary step to produce a vision or guiding principles that later become a framework for a transportation plan.
- In advance of long-range or corridor planning to develop an understanding of the need for change or to highlight the importance of specific issues in transportation planning.
- Throughout development of long-range or corridor plans, to involve the public and other partners as well as identify potential outcomes of transportation investments, land-use or growth patterns, or other trends.
Step 1.1: Identify the objectives, anticipated goals, and major components of the process.
- Define and document the intention and purpose of the scenario planning effort, as well as anticipated goals.
- Consider what questions the effort will help to answer and how the technique should be used.
- Reach out to the public and other partners, including local elected officials, the business community, community nonprofits, and regional authorities, as part of the process to identify objectives and goals. Establishing partnerships early can allow stakeholders to take ownership of the effort and help encourage widespread support. This can be particularly important if scenario planning will be a regional effort. Engaging and connecting with regional interests from the beginning can promote better working relationships and might lead to identifying new resources. For example, by partnering with the local parks and recreation department, the MPO for the Cheyenne, Wyoming, region was able to obtain additional funding for its scenario planning process and build from an ongoing planning effort focused on green and open spaces.
Step 1.2: Develop a scope and budget.
- Consider how this effort could or will build on previous, ongoing, or future planning or project programming efforts.
- Identify and consider external (e.g., Federal, state, regional, or local) timeframes, policies, mandates, or requirements that could affect the scenario planning process, budget, or schedule.
- Identify overall resources that could provide a foundation for the effort.
- Have scenario planning efforts occurred in other areas, this community, or this region in the past that could be used as models or guides for the effort?
- What funding opportunities, staff capabilities, or other resources are available to support scenario planning?
- Will all components of the scenario planning effort be managed in-house or is consultant assistance needed?
- Consider what time horizon is appropriate for the scenarios and the general issues that scenarios might address.
- Consider how stakeholders, decision-makers, and the public will be engaged in the effort.
Developing a Coalition for the Scenario Planning Effort
Scenario planning is most effective when a broad coalition of stakeholders and partners are involved. Throughout each phase of the process but particularly in Phase 1, agencies should explore opportunities to partner with others to build a broad coalition of stakeholders.
Potential partners could include:
- The business community
- City/town departments or agencies (e.g., department of parks and recreation, department of public health)
- Community nonprofits
- Economic development organizations
- Emergency responders
- Environmental groups
- Historically underrepresented community members
- Homeowners associations
- Land-use authorities
- MPO board members
- Regional councils or authorities
- State and Federal resource agencies
- Tribal councils and Tribal members
- Universities and schools
- Utility providers
Step 1.3: Identify roles and responsibilities for involved stakeholders.
- Consider staffs' roles in the process. Who are the lead agencies for the effort and what are their responsibilities?
- Identify partners' and public stakeholders' roles and at what stage(s) during the process they will be involved. Defining stakeholders' roles will help to identify the types of public participation methods used.
Phase 1 Output
A possible output of Phase 1 is a work plan to carry the scenario planning effort forward. This might also be the overall plan for accomplishing the update of the metropolitan transportation plan or the long-range transportation plan. The work plan is an administrative tool showing how the scenario planning effort will meet its stated goals and objectives within time and budget constraints. The work plan should explicitly document the expected outcomes and objectives for the effort and define roles and expectations for leadership and involved stakeholders. The plan should also describe anticipated technical support, research, and outreach activities.