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Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)

National Scenario Planning Peer Exchange Report - July 8-10, 2012

Executive Summary

This report summarizes a national scenario planning peer exchange jointly sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The exchange was held as part of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Summer Meeting in Irvine, California, on July 8-10, 2012. FHWA and FTA worked closely with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO), and the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO) to plan the peer exchange.

Participants in the event shared examples of scenario planning processes across the United States as well as best practices, challenges, and success factors. Twenty-seven peers and 53 participants attended the event, including representatives from Federal agencies, State departments of transportation, metropolitan planning organizations, councils of government, transit agencies, and private sector organizations. All peers provided a range of backgrounds and perspectives on scenario planning. Appendix A provides the peer exchange agenda. Appendix B lists the exchange attendees and their respective agencies. Appendix C provides speaker contact information. Presentations from the peer exchange, including video recordings, are available on TRB's website.1

In convening scenario planning practitioners and other interested stakeholders from around the country, the peer exchange provided a unique opportunity to discuss the state-of-the-practice of scenario planning across the nation. Furthermore, the event allowed peers to showcase their innovative work through presentations, a tools showcase, and an awards ceremony honoring the winners and honorable mention recipients of the 2012 Transportation Planning Excellence Awards (TPEA). The tools showcase, staffed by participants and presenters of the exchange, provided opportunities for additional discussions and tutorials of scenario planning tools used by agency representatives attending the event. TPEA, a biennial awards program jointly sponsored by FHWA and FTA, recognizes outstanding transportation planning practices occurring across the country. Appendix D provides the list of TPEA winners and honorable mentions.

The peer exchange included a variety of approaches to scenario planning, including those that test multiple scenarios against a baseline trend and those that examine the influence of multiple issues or trends on community plans or operations. The presented scenarios also varied in terms of the topics addressed and types of data, indicators, and performance measures that are applied. Some recurring topics for scenarios mentioned during the peer exchange included population growth or decline, climate change, energy or fuel use, and assessing fiscal investments, but potential topics can range beyond those listed here.

Given this wide range of scenario planning approaches, data, and topics, peer exchange participants observed that the term "scenario planning" may have very different meanings to different people. As a result, some participants suggested that it is important to be clear with stakeholders about the goals and objectives for the scenario planning effort as well as roles and responsibilities. Several stakeholders noted the importance of involving diverse stakeholders in scenario planning as early as possible to help ensure that the results of the process are accepted, trusted, and implemented. Finally, several outreach methods for engaging stakeholders were also presented during the peer exchange. 

In sponsoring the peer exchange, FHWA and FTA, along with AASHTO, TRB, AMPO, APTA, and NADO, succeeded in building a scenario planning community of practice and providing a strong foundation for future efforts in this area. By involving representatives from a variety of agencies, FHWA and FTA provided opportunities for peers to gain knowledge from others' successes and challenges in the application of scenario planning techniques. Throughout the peer exchange, participants also shared their agencies' practices in developing and implementing scenarios and supporting outreach efforts to gather public input and create collective visions. FHWA and FTA intend to use the ideas and concepts discussed during the peer exchange to inform the future planning and development of the scenario planning program and provide opportunities for peers to continue the dialogue started at the event.

1 The website is available at:

Updated: 1/31/2017
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