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FHWA Scenario Planning Guidebook

Phase 6. How Will We Reach Our Desired Future?

Craft the comprehensive vision. Identify strategic actions and performance measures.

Phase 6 focuses on consolidating scenario impacts, as well as community preferences and priorities established in previous phases, into a comprehensive vision. The vision, or future blueprint, is grounded in realistic analysis and incorporates possible future changes. Text, tables, maps, and illustrations can be used to represent the vision. The vision provides a framework for building consensus on policies and strategies related to transportation, growth, land use, or other issues.

An action plan is also developed that details strategies for achieving the comprehensive vision. Potential strategies could include updates to local, regional, and state plans that propose locations for new growth and proposed investment levels, or other policies and programs relevant to transportation, land use, economic development, environmental preservation, and other key topics. The action plan also describes responsibilities for implementation and monitoring to guide progress toward the vision.

There are several steps to Phase 6. Agencies should:

Each step is listed below, along with associated key questions that agencies can consider. Some steps provide examples for additional consideration.

Step 6.1: Craft a comprehensive vision.

Creating Action Steps

Vision North Texas is public-private partnership developed to address a variety of key issues, including population growth, anticipated increasing traffic congestion, and technological innovations.

To help address these issues and potential regional responses, Vision North Texas used a scenario planning approach. The approach involved evaluating five alternative futures with the public and other stakeholders through a series of workshops held in 2009.

Vision North Texas developed a toolbox as a result of scenario analysis and other visioning activities.* Tools include policies, actions, and techniques that will contribute to achieving its vision for the future. The toolbox describes each tool, details roles and responsibilities for stakeholders who will likely use the tool, examines potential costs and funding options, and recommends steps to implement the tool.

For example, one tool is a proposal to adopt a transportation investment boundary. The policy would focus transportation infrastructure funding on existing urbanized areas to reduce urban sprawl and support compact development patterns. The North Central Texas Council of Governments is named as the primary lead for implementing this tool; a proposed first step is reviewing state legislation to assess the policy's feasibility.

* For more information about the Vision North Texas toolbox, see

Step 6.2: Validate and refine the vision.

Step 6.3: Develop an action plan to implement the vision and continue monitoring outcomes over time.

Developing a Regional Vision from Scenario Planning

Envision Utah is a nonprofit created in 1995 to develop a broad and publically supported growth strategy for the State of Utah.* Between 1997 and 1999, Envision Utah conducted research and held over 200 public workshops. Scenario planning was a key part of the Envision Utah approach and helped residents to explore and test several alternative growth patterns.

Envision Utah created the Quality Growth Strategy for Utah from the feedback collected during the two-year effort. The Strategy contains goals and voluntary actions for local governments and others to consider when planning for and addressing economic development, mobility, infrastructure, and other issues.

Several communities in Utah have used an approach modeled on that of Envision Utah to conduct scenario analysis and vision planning. For example, Envision Cache Valley, a scenario planning process used to develop a regional vision in Cache Valley, Utah, was conducted in 2009.

On the basis of public feedback on scenarios, collected at town-hall meetings and through online questionnaires, the Cache Valley Regional Council and process steering committee identified overall themes and developed them into a regional vision statement. Additional public outreach was conducted to present the regional vision and solicit feedback.

Later, the Cache Valley regional vision was compiled in a comprehensive document that included pictures illustrating preferred community types and graphics demonstrating what streetscapes might look like if recommended policies (such as promoting mixed-used development) were implemented.**

* For more information on Envision Utah, see
** To access the Envision Cache Valley final report, see Report and Toolkit_All Chapters_LowRes.pdf.

Phase 6 Outputs

Possible outputs for Phase 6 are a comprehensive vision that documents the preferences and desired future of the state, community, region, or study area as well as an action plan. The action plan implements the vision and guides preferred actions and investments at the statewide, regional, community, and local levels.

Updated: 10/20/2015
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