US Department of Transportation

FHWA PlanWorks: Better Planning, Better Projects

Creating the Vision

Activity Area: Where are we going?

Vision Activities

Within this activity, the practitioner’s responsibility is to inform participants of future trends and policy choices, and to reach agreement on common goals that inform the development of the vision.

Document trends – Providing information on probable future trends helps participants in a visioning process assess their choices and determine preferences. Historic and projected data may be utilized to help frame problem statements, determine priorities, and develop alternatives.

Example: Puget Sound Regional Council's Vision 2040 effort developed regional trend and long term forecast information to help inform the process.

Develop goals and guiding principles – Building consensus around long term goals, objectives, or guiding principles may be challenging, but will provide significant direction for the visioning process. Community goals are often formed through interactive public input opportunities such as workshops and meetings.

Examples: Northeast Colorado’s visioning project was developed from regional core values and goals, as identified by resident survey respondents.

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
Reaching Stakeholders

Practitioners may consider these questions when assessing outreach tools:

How can we tell a compelling story of future trends in the community?

How can we best utilize public input in determine goals and guiding principles for the vision?

Which stakeholder groups should be targeted for information on trends and a future outlook?

Considering Communities

Previously selected indicators may provide a framework for trend analysis of a likely futures given a set of policy choices. Providing information on probable trends helps participants in a visioning process assess choices and determine preferences. Historic and projected data may be utilized to help frame problem statements, determine priorities, and develop community indicators.

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.

Community Effects Considerations – This tool is a guide designed to help practitioners understand the key criteria, data sources and analytical methods that should be considered when assessing potential impacts to the human environment of a proposed project. Download 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.

Smart Growth Checklist, A Checklist for Proposed Development in Your Community – This guide can be used by communities to determine how a proposed project would contribute to the overall well-being of a community. Download the checklist here.