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Scenario Planning

Welcome to the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Scenario Planning website. Here you can learn about noteworthy practices and innovative uses of Scenario Planning applications for transportation planning, explore other Scenario Planning Resources and learn who to contact in FHWA about particular Scenario Planning questions or issues.

What is Scenario Planning?

Scenario planning is an analytical tool that can help transportation professionals prepare for what lies ahead. Scenario planning provides a framework for developing a shared vision for the future by analyzing various forces (e.g., health, transportation, economic, environmental, land use, etc.) that affect growth. Scenario planning, which can be done at the statewide level or for metropolitan regions, tests various future alternatives that meet state and community needs. A defining characteristic of successful public sector scenario planning is that it actively involves the public, the business community, and elected officials on a broad scale, educating them about growth trends and trade-offs, and incorporating their values and feedback into future plans.

Scenario Planning Technical Assistance Available

FHWA and FTA are updating USDOT's approach to providing scenario planning assistance to state Departments of Transportation (DOTs), metropolitan/regional planning organizations (M/RPOs), and other transportation decision-makers. We encourage you to monitor this website for forthcoming opportunities to apply for federal resources to support your agency's scenario planning efforts.  For more information on FHWA scenario planning technical assistance opportunities, please visit the Scenario Planning Technical Assistance Page

FHWA Scenario Planning Guidebook

Scenario Planning Guidebook.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).

FHWA Scenario Planning Webinars

FHWA New Tools for Scenario Planning  - April 5, 2012
A Scenario Planning Webinar was conducted on April 5, 2012, which shared information on the Denver Regional Council of Government’s (DRCOG’s) previous scenario planning work with a national audience, including the agency’s use of innovative visualization and public engagement techniques. The webinar also explored how DRCOG intends to use several new scenario and land use analysis tools as part of a scenario planning approach to update its regional plan, Metro Vision 2040. Finally, the webinar provided a forum for DRCOG to engage in dialogue with a panel of five nationally recognized experts on scenario planning. highlighted the advanced phases of scenario planning. (PDF, 70KB)

FHWA Advanced Phases Webinar - August 2011
A Scenario Planning Webinar was conducted on August 17, 2011, that highlighted the advanced phases of scenario planning. It outlined some suggested steps in how agencies can create and evaluate scenarios; additionally, it provided examples of how agencies around the country have created scenarios, assessed their impacts, and used scenarios as a framework for action planning. The webinar featured peer speakers from the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission in Dayton, Ohio, and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) in California. (PDF, 94KB)

FHWA Getting Started with Scenario Planning Webinar Summary - March 2011
A Scenario Planning Webinar was conducted on March 1, 2011, that examined how transportation agencies can get started to use scenario planning. The webinar highlighted some of the key initial steps that are involved with scenario planning and also outlined how scenario planning can be incorporated as part of an agency's existing long-range planning processes. It featured peer speakers from the Denver Regional Council of Governments in Colorado and the Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization for the Gainesville, Florida, Urbanized Area. (PDF, 104 KB)

FHWA Introduction to Scenario Planning Webinar - September 2010
A Scenario Planning Webinar 101 was conducted on September 29th, 2010 that explored the history of scenario planning and examined how transportation agencies can use the technique today to address many different types of issues. The webinar highlighted some of the recent applications of scenario planning and showcased benefits of the technique, including its ability to help integrate land use and transportation planning. The webinar also highlighted the new FHWA Scenario Planning Guidebook and included a peer speaker from the Chittenden County Metropolitan Planning Organization (CCMPO). (PDF, 285KB)

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Updated: 06/26/2013
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