Evaluation of and Guidance on Using Scenario-Based Planning To Balance Long-Term Transportation, Community, Environmental, And Economic Goals

Focus Area

Environmental Considerations in Planning









Research Idea Scope

TERI Database Administrator Notes:  Not recommended at present time by 2009 Environmental Process Subcommittee.

There is growing frustration with the results of current state, regional, and local transportation and community decision-making processes. Transportation needs are not integrated or addressed in land use, economic, and other community planning efforts. Expensive and time consuming transportation planning processes and environmental reviews often do not result in projects being built or improvements in the quality of life, environment, or economic opportunities in communities. Participants in the process often become polarized and unable to develop consensus because the range of solutions is limited to the scope of existing programs, agency missions, and resources. Solutions and alternatives are often developed in “stovepipes” and do not take into account the impacts of decisions on other goals. “Scenario-based planning” offers an alternative process for  decision makers that gives additional tools to effectively address long-term transportation, community, environmental, and economic goals.

Scenario-based planning starts with the creation of a desied future “end state” and decision makers work together to create action plans to best reach that end result. By starting with an outcome and set of circumstances that may be 40 or 50 years or even 7 generations into the future, decision makers are taken out of their current “turf” and can think more creatively and collaboratively. The research specifically would explore:

 • How scenario-based planning can be used to meet and balance long-range transportation, environment, community, and economic goals;
• How scenario-based planning can be used to weigh and balance economic growth and development with other environmental factors;
• How scenario-based planning can integrate competing public, private, and community interests and results in transportation solutions;
• How scenario-based planning can integrate multiple levels of decision making from community, local, regional, statewide, and national, to global;
• How scenario-based planning can be used to develop alternative compliance with environmental goals into public and private initiatives; and
• How the results of scenario-based planning link with and support current environmental and planning requirements.

Research tasks would include:

1. Surveying current scenario-based planning applications and collect successful strategies and practices that would be applicable and effective in transportation decision making.
2. Developing, testing, and evaluating scenario-based planning for local, regional, statewide, and national transportation and environmental applications.
3. On the same issue, comparing the outcomes of a current transportation and environmental decision-making process with a scenario planning process.
4. Develop guidance, training, and materials to share effective strategies with decision makers.

Suggested By

Transportation Research Board 2002 Environmental Research Needs Conference Notes

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