US Department of Transportation

FHWA PlanWorks: Better Planning, Better Projects

Preparing the Vision

Activity Area: What has been done?

Vision Activities

Within this activity, the practitioner’s role is to diligently review existing resources to inform the development of the process and to identify existing networks in terms of opportunities for future collaboration.

Review prior plans and visions – Taking stock of previous planning efforts, research, or previous visions is an important near-term action to provide background for a visioning process. Related work may provide direct input when determining critical issues, developing relationships with stakeholders, or revealing the value of updating a preexisting vision, rather than developing a new process. Background research may also assist in assessing available data on existing conditions and potential future trends, for use in later activities.

Example: Elkhart County, Indiana’s “Horizon Project” prepared a scan of past plans and reports to inform the effort.

Assess existing partnerships – Building on existing relationships is an effective means to engage partners or to establish an organizational structure for a vision. Key stakeholders may already be coordinating within a community and provide ready partnership models.

Examples: The Southeast Florida Regional Partnership was formed to pursue regional visioning and is a broad-based, multi-sector regional partnership.

The research report for the Vision Guide contains extensive information about reaching stakeholders and tools that support stakeholder engagement. See Linking Community Visioning and Highway Capacity Planning in the PlanWorks Library Reports.

Visioning Components
Name Tools & Resources
Considering Communities

Scanning prior studies, plans, and documents for data sources and existing measurement programs will help form the foundation of a baseline conditions analysis. The exact indicators used throughout the process may change, this activity may help identify possible data sources and provide options for synergies among partner and stakeholder agency performance measurement tracking efforts.

PolicyMap, Geographic Information Systems Mapping Services and Software – This online tool with the capacity to map and report indicators related to demographics, real estate, crime rates, health, schools, housing affordability, employment, energy, public investments, and others. Access The Policy Map.

Community Context Audit – This audit form guides practitioners when identifying community characteristics that make each transportation project location unique to its residents, its businesses, and the public in general. Findings help define the purpose and need of proposed transportation improvements based upon community goals and local plans for future development. Access the tool here.

Smart Growth Checklist, A Checklist for Municipal Land Use Planning and Management – This guide may be used by communities when making decisions about future land use and development patterns. It is designed to assess how well planning and land use policies and decisions in a community follow the principles of Smart Growth. Access the checklist here.

Forming Partnerships

Partnership Models – Visioning processes are often sponsored by an existing organization or through the formation of a new organization. Existing organizations may be public agencies or private entities, while newly formed organizations are often public-private partnerships. For examples, see the links within the activity area above. Assessing the capacity, reach, and commitments of existing partnerships or organizations can provide valuable information which will help inform whether new strategic partnerships or whether existing partnerships will be most effective to organize the visioning process.