US Department of Transportation

FHWA PlanWorks: Better Planning, Better Projects

US Department of Transportation

FHWA Planworks: Better Planning, Better Projects

Visioning and Transportation


Visioning and the Decision Guide

Visioning is an optional public exercise where planners facilitate community stakeholders in defining their desired future, in order to inform planning and policy development. Visioning provides an opportunity for communities to establish a common foundation for a variety of community plans including, for example, land use, transportation and economic development. Using an adopted community vision as an input into transportation decision making ensures that transportation plans and projects are advancing the values and opportunities that the community supports.

When used to support transportation planning, visioning often includes scenario planning. Visioning scenarios extend beyond conventional 10-25 year planning horizons and address dynamic relationships among social, economic, educational, environmental, and technological factors, as well as mobility, accessibility, and system performance. The desired future may be illustrated in pictures or maps along with policies which can be supported by specific goals, objectives, and implementation strategies.

Visioning methods range from simple structured small group discussions to complex analyses with sophisticated renderings and extensive public engagement. A well-crafted vision relies on strong participation and genuine interaction among participants whose decisions and actions can support.

A successful outcome from visioning can improve both the quality and timeliness of transportation decision making. A vision provides the physical, economic and social context of a community's future, built on collaboration between decision makers and interested groups or individuals. Transportation decisions improve when decisions build upon the positive relationships and partnerships established by a process that is broad-based and inclusive of all of the diverse interests within a community. The result of this collaboration is agreement on the vision and a commitment to implement the vision. By considering this vision during transportation decision making, practitioners can gain local support for transportation improvements that support the desired future

Visioning can support all phases of transportation decision making. For a snapshot of the relevance of visioning to each Key Decision, roll over the Decision Guide graphic below. Click on any Key Decision to access detailed information about:

  • Purpose and outcomes
  • Partner roles
  • Linkages across phases
  • Questions to consider
  • Data that support the decision

Key Decisions that are grayed-out have no specific relevance to the individual application or topic area but are still accessible from this graphic.

Application Roles Example

The role of each partner changes from one Key Decision to another. Understanding partner roles and how they change throughout the process is essential to successful collaboration. The Decision Guide describes the four possible roles for partners at each Key Decision:

Application Role Index Table

lrp-icon
LRP

This is going to be replaced with a description for Long Range Transportation Planning.

pro-icon
PRO

This is going to be replaced with a description for Programming phase in the Decision Guide.

cor-icon
COR

Corridor Planning I'm sure has an important description that will be replaced with this sample text.

env-icon
ENV

Evironmental Review (NEPA) Merged with Permitting something something.

norole-icon
No Role

Does not participate because the resulting action is outside the agency’s interests and requirements.

LRP-1
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/LRP-1

Determine if the scope, goals, measures, and/or commitments from visioning are available and applicable.
LRP-2
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/LRP-2

Evaluate if the goals and adopted future from visioning are useful to inform the transportation vision and goals.
LRP-3
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/LRP-3

Use the goals and objectives from visioning to inform the selection of evaluation criteria and performance measures to ensure that the preferred scenario reflects the community vision.
LRP-4
This Key Decision is not associated with application.
LRP-5
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/LRP-5

Explore whether partner commitments in the community visioning process may be a potential revenue source for transportation improvements.
LRP-6
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/LRP-6

Review implementation strategies from the vision to enhance proposed transportation strategies.
LRP-7
This Key Decision is not associated with application.
LRP-8
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/LRP-8

Validate that the preferred scenario is supportive of the adopted future in the community vision.
LRP-9
This Key Decision is not associated with application.
LRP-10
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/LRP-10

Acknowledge the adopted/consensus vision as a guiding document/resource for the adopted LRTP.
LRP-11
This Key Decision is not associated with application.

PRO-1
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/PRO-1

Consider commitments within the visioning process to identify potential revenue sources and funding partners. Although funding for future projects may be considered, firm commitments are necessary to include these in the TIP and STIP.
PRO-2
This Key Decision is not associated with application.
PRO-3
This Key Decision is not associated with application.
PRO-4
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/PRO-4

Determine if vision implementation priorities inform project prioritization or sequencing.
PRO-5
This Key Decision is not associated with application.
PRO-6
This Key Decision is not associated with application.
PRO-7
This Key Decision is not associated with application.
PRO-8
This Key Decision is not associated with application.
PRO-9
This Key Decision is not associated with application.

COR-1
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/COR-1

Determine if scope, goals, measures, and/or commitments from visioning are applicable to the corridor planning scope.
COR-2
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/COR-2

Link issues and desired outcomes identified in the vision to the problems and opportunities addressed in the corridor plan.
COR-3
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/COR-3

Consider the goals and adopted future from visioning to inform the corridor planning goals.
COR-4
This Key Decision is not associated with application.
COR-5
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/COR-5

Review the goals, objectives, and measures from the visioning process to inform criteria and measures.
COR-6
This Key Decision is not associated with application.
COR-7
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/COR-7

Validate that the preferred solution set is supportive of the consensus vision and/or adopted future(s).
COR-8
This Key Decision is not associated with application.
COR-9
This Key Decision is not associated with application.

ENV-1
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/ENV-1

Identify scope elements, goals, measures, and/or commitments from the visioning process that may be applicable to the environmental review scope.
ENV-2
This Key Decision is not associated with application.
ENV-3
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/ENV-3

Determine how the vision problem statement, key issues, adopted future(s), goals, and guiding principles inform the project purpose and need.
ENV-4
This Key Decision is not associated with application.
ENV-5
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/ENV-5

Consider indicators, implementation priorities, and action steps from visioning.
ENV-6
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/ENV-6

Consider opportunities to address vision priorities when selecting alternatives to be carried forward.
ENV-7
This Key Decision is not associated with application.
ENV-8
This Key Decision is not associated with application.
ENV-9
This Key Decision is not associated with application.
ENV-10
https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/planworks/DecisionGuide/Step/ENV-10

Document the preferred alternative support of the adopted community vision and communicate this to stakeholders and partners.Document the preferred alternative support of the adopted community vision and communicate this to stakeholders and partners.
ENV-11
This Key Decision is not associated with application.
ENV-12
This Key Decision is not associated with application.
ENV-13
This Key Decision is not associated with application.
ENV-14
This Key Decision is not associated with application.

The Vision Guide

The Vision Guide was developed to enhance transportation practitioners' understanding of how broad-based community visioning processes can inform decision making. It explores community visioning efforts, identifies steps and activities for engaging in visioning, and highlights the links between vision outcomes and transportation. During visioning, stakeholders and the public come to consensus on four basic questions: Where are we now? Where are we going? Where do we want to be? and How will we get there?

The Vision Guide is an interactive graphic providing access to the many activities and decisions associated with integrating community visioning into transportation planning.

  • Visioning Phases: The guide organizes visioning activities into three phases: Preparing, Creating, and Implementing. Click on a phase name to view an overview of what occurs within that phase.
  • Visioning Activities: The questions in each column link to important activities for practitioners to pursue as part of visioning. Click on a question to learn more and to access case studies illustrating the practice.
  • Visioning Decision Points: Vision-related approval and adoption decisions are the bold steps in the Vision Guide. These points require a decision to produce a vision outcome. Click on any of the Decision Points, to view information for these transition points.

Vision Guide Chart

Preparing the Vision Creating the Vision Implementing the Vision
Approve Scope
Approve Goals
Adopt Future(s)
Approve Indicators and Commitments
Adopt Update Process

Examples from Practice

Visioning can be used as an input to transportation planning in many different ways. The examples below illustrate a variety of approaches and outcomes of a visioning process. The use of scenario planning is a common feature of most.

  • CUUATS began their visioning process by statistically modelling changes in land use patterns, employment and population growth, public health, and travel demand patterns. Using the projected changes in these trends, as well as public input, CUUATS created two separate scenarios: The Traditional Development 2040 scenario, which projected developments through 2040 from historical trends, and the Sustainable Development 2040 scenario, which projected developments through 2040 based on MAP-21 performance goals and the performance goals of the region.

  • Within their Transportation Master Plan, Cheyenne Area MPO included a chapter on an unconstrained "Transportation Vision Plan." The MPO divided this chapter into sections on various modal choices and addressed what projects, if funded, could reduce congestion as well as increase mobility and safety. Using a fiscally unconstrained plan, Cheyenne considered the impacts of projects that were not feasible and developed strategies to fund those projects which they determined would have the greatest impacts on the community.

  • Evansville MPO held community visioning workshops in order to encourage greater public participation in developing a collective vision for their community. One of the tools used was the Boonville Downtown Revitalization Blog, which provided updates to citizens and contained a section for residents to voice their opinions and recommendations to community planners.

  • In 2014, Envision Utah conducted a values study to understand what matters most to residents of Utah. The study outcome was captured in three primary characteristics: Safe and Secure Environment, Cost of Living/Economic Opportunity, and Scenic Beauty/Outdoor Recreation. The use of scenarios and survey results, informed by the values allowed development of a vision for 2050.

  • Florida DOT based their transportation vision on five questions: Where have we been; Where are we today; Where are we going; Where do we want to go; and How do we get there. State, regional, and local agencies all attempted to answer these questions, and the general public was heavily consulted during the process. A state summit, five regional workshops, several local partner meetings, and online comment forms were all used to obtain input from the public in shaping the vision for Florida.

  • Hillsborough County MPO received feedback from the community on where residents would like to see the community grow and develop over the subsequent 25-year period. Using this feedback, the Planning Commission created a heat map to illustrate the preferred course for future development.

  • Public engagement for the On To 2050 plan began in April 2017. The focus was to "stress-test" assumptions about trends that may shape the future of the CMAP region. A robust set of strategies was used for this engagement and a wide variety of stakeholder were engaged. This information will inform the ongoing development of the ON TO 2050 plan.

  • Puget Sound Regional Council considered six major policy areas in developing their vision for the region: environment, development patterns, housing, economy, transportation, and public services. By understanding the impacts of a project to all of these areas, the agency was able to integrate land use, economic, and transportation decisions in a manner that supports environmental health, addresses challenges associated with climate change, strives to achieve social equity, and attends to the needs of future generations.