US Department of Transportation

FHWA PlanWorks: Better Planning, Better Projects

US Department of Transportation

FHWA Planworks: Better Planning, Better Projects

LRP-7: Approve Plan Scenarios

Long Range Transportation Planning


Scenarios are based on approved strategies and are compared using the evaluation criteria, method and measures. Collaboration with partners from other planning processes is important at this stage as scenarios could involve strategies that encompass land use, infrastructure or other components. This step begins the iterative process of refining scenarios in order to select the preferred scenario.

There is information in prior Key Decisions that informs this step. In order to effectively execute this Key Decision there is essential information created at LRP-6 related to the range of approved strategies.


The first table describes the purpose and anticipated outcome of a Key Decision. If the decision is federally mandated, the purpose and outcome will relate to the legal intent.

The second table describes roles for key partners with legal decision making authority in the transportation process. The roles indicate the influence a partner can have on a decision, and show each partner where their input is most needed. For a full understanding of roles see the Partner Portal.


To identify plan scenarios for testing and comparison in order to select a preferred plan scenario for the region. The scenarios are designed to address the approved deficiencies. This begins the iterative analysis that is conducted for a full understanding of the trade-off decisions necessary to identify the preferred plan scenario. Scenarios should be identified in terms that can be easily understood by the decision makers, planning partners, and stakeholders.


A list of feasible plan scenarios.

Partner Role Type Description
MPO Decision Maker Approves plan scenarios that reflect the broad interests of the region to support comparison and selection of a preferred
FHWA/FTA Observer Observes the process of evaluating and considering individual scenarios for consistency with the intent of federal regulations
State DOT Advisor Provides information on state perspective and compatible interests
Resource Agency Advisor Advise partners about potential impacts to protected resources or conservation and restoration priorities associated with transportation plan scenarios.
Public Transportation Operator(s) Advisor Provides information on transit perspective and compatible interests.

Questions to Consider

Questions are a way to gather input from partners and stakeholders that can be used to inform the decision. Decision makers can discuss the questions provided to ensure a broad array of interests are considered to support a collaborative process. Questions also allow staff to collect stakeholder interests, ensure these are included in the decision, and provide a response based on the decision outcome. Although Public Transportation is not represented by a PlanWorks Application, the information provided may be useful in a collaborative transportation process.

Category Questions to Consider
Long Range Planning
  • How well do these scenarios address the approved deficiencies?
  • To what extent are scenarios politically feasible?
  • Do planning partners support or oppose any specific scenario?
  • Will all of the visions and goals be addressed by at least one of these scenarios? Is there a missing scenario?
  • Are the scenarios sufficiently different for meaningful comparison?
  • Have we identified how each scenario will impact financing, revenues, and implementation schedule?
Corridor Planning
  • Does the scenario analysis inform any active or upcoming corridor planning studies?
Environmental Review
  • Based on preliminary land use and environmental screening, are any of these scenarios fatally flawed?
Bicycles and Pedestrians
  • Do any of the scenarios create barriers to bicycle and pedestrian network connectivity?
  • How are bicycle and pedestrian network continuity and connectivity addressed in each of the scenarios? For example, is a network of separated bike lanes connected or continuous?
  • To what extent are bicycle and pedestrian components integrated into each of the scenarios?
    To what extent will each respective scenario meet the needs of all users?
  • Is there a need to balance mode choices?
Capital Improvement
  • Are the proposed scenarios compatible with or supportive of existing Capital Improvement plans?
Economic Development
  • Are approved transportation strategies consistent with economic development?
  • Based on preliminary information about economic development implications, are any of these scenarios fatally flawed?
  • How will each scenario impact the ability to meet economic development goals?
  • Is information available that will support freight analysis in the scenarios?
  • Which scenarios include freight considerations?
  • How has input from freight stakeholders or existing freight plans influenced the plan scenarios?
  • How does freight interact with other plan considerations, such as land use, economic development, and safety?
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  • What are the timescales over which the strategies in a scenario are expected to show impacts and how do these match with the target years for GHG reduction?
  • What GHG-reduction transportation strategies should be included as part of a scenario analysis?
Health in Transportation
  • Which scenarios are compatible with existing health plans and policies?
  • How do different scenarios compare based on the selected criteria, methods, and performance measures of their ability to meet the health needs of the community and of specific population groups affected?
  • How well do different scenarios address health disparities among populations or improve the social determinants of health such as access to education and jobs?
  • Do any scenarios disproportionately affect the health of specific population groups?
  • What modifications to the scenarios could help achieve the desired health outcomes for the corridor?
  • What scenarios are preferred or opposed by health and community stakeholders?
Human Environment and Communities
  • How might each scenario impact environmental justice and equity?
  • How might each scenario impact the human environment in the community?
  • Have human environment and community stakeholders expressed support or opposition to any scenarios?
  • Are there any fatally-flawed scenarios from the perspective of human environment and community stakeholders?
Land Use
  • Are approved transportation scenarios consistent with land use vision/plans?
  • Are the scenarios supportive of the regional land use vision and goals, future land use patterns, and growth forecasts?
  • Based on preliminary information about land use implications, are any of these scenarios fatally flawed?
  • Have potential smart growth strategies been incorporated into the scenarios?
Linking Planning and Operations
  • Do the scenarios address mobility, performance, reliability, and accessibility needs beyond the identified deficiencies?
  • Have operations strategies been incorporated into scenarios, including off- model analysis to inform scenario comparison?
  • Have operational partners been asked for input and recommendations about plan scenarios as well as roles and responsibilities for operational improvements?
Natural Environment and Implementing Eco Logical
  • How will these scenarios impact the natural environment?
Performance Measures
  • Have performance targets been identified for the region?
  • What data is available to evaluate scenarios against the selected targets?
Planning and Environment Linkages
  • Have the reasons for eliminating strategies been sufficiently documented to inform environmental review?
Public Private Partnerships
  • How will P3 strategies in the scenarios influence our procurement, project development, financing, and revenue?
  • Are any scenarios fatally flawed based on financial assessments? Would P3 change this outcome?
  • Are P3 projects in the scenarios consistent with existing economic investment and other relevant plans in the region?
Public Transportation
  • Is public transportation data available that can inform or influence the scenarios?
  • To what extent are safety strategies and practices integrated into each of the scenarios?
  • How well do the scenarios address safety?
  • Are there specific safety issues that are not addressed by the scenarios? If so, is there a potential solution to consider?
  • Which safety strategies help meet the performance targets?
Stakeholder Collaboration
  • What scenarios did the stakeholders suggest?
  • Did the stakeholders express strong opposition to any suggested scenarios? If so, what was the opposition?
  • Did the stakeholders identify missing scenarios? If so, how was that addressed?
  • What is the justification for eliminating or adding certain scenarios or making individual changes within a scenario?
Transportation Conformity
  • This Key Decision is not associated with the Application.
Visioning and Transportation
  • This Key Decision is not associated with the Application.


The following list of data may be needed to support the Key Decision. Practitioners collect this information for decision makers to consider. Although Public Transportation is not represented by a PlanWorks Application, the information provided may be useful in a collaborative transportation process.

Category Data to Consider
Long Range Planning
  • Range of approved strategies
  • Previous plan conformity analysis
  • Off-model analysis to support scenario evaluation
  • Identification of those things that are qualitative rather than quantitative for consideration
  • Policy implications and comparison to stated vision and goals
  • Funding resources that support or limit each scenario
  • Data on financing, revenues, and timelines
  • Existing + Committed (E+C) project list for baseline and planning horizon years
Corridor Planning
  • Data from active or anticipated corridor planning studies
Environmental Review
  • Data from active or recently completed environmental review
Bicycles and Pedestrians
  • Information and data that support analysis of bicycle and pedestrian components of the plan scenarios

    Bicycle and pedestrian options and analysis outcomes for each scenario

  • Bicycle and pedestrian options and analysis outcomes for each scenario
Capital Improvement
  • Assessment of compatibility with Capital Improvement plans
Economic Development
  • Economic development impacts for each scenario
  • Information from freight stakeholders
  • Information and data that supports freight analysis in the scenarios
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  • Sketch-level planning cost for strategies included in scenarios
  • Target GHG reductions
  • GHG-reduction strategies and relative importance of GHG-reduction benefits compared to other planning factors for each scenario
Health in Transportation
  • Analysis of the health outcomes associated with different scenarios
  • Input from health stakeholders
Human Environment and Communities
  • Environmental justice/equity impacts for each scenario
  • Human environment and community impacts for each scenario
  • Input from human environment and community stakeholders
  • Documentation of individual scenario impacts on the human environment
Land Use
  • Land use and/or smart growth implications and impacts for each scenario
  • Examples of potential smart growth effects, as applicable
Linking Planning and Operations
  • System operations data to inform scenarios
Natural Environment and Implementing Eco Logical
  • Natural environment impacts for each scenario
Performance Measures
  • Performance targets for the region and related data
  • Past performance, where available and applicable
Planning and Environment Linkages
  • Documentation of strategy decisions
Public Private Partnerships
  • Potential P3 projects
  • Assessment of consistency with other plans
  • Preliminary P3 project costs and revenues
Public Transportation
  • Multimodal options and analysis for each scenario
  • Safety impacts for each scenario
Stakeholder Collaboration
  • Political interests and trade-offs in the region
  • Input gathered from stakeholders
Transportation Conformity
  • This Key Decision is not associated with the Application.
Visioning and Transportation
  • This Key Decision is not associated with the Application.


In - depth case studies of successful practices in collaborative decision making were used to develop the Decision Guide.Links in this table point to a specific paragraph or section of a case study that supports a Key Decision. It is not necessary to read through an entire case study to find the example; however, full versions are available in the Library.

PlanWorks Case Study Examples:
I-5 Beltline Interchange Plan - Using Community Values as Performance Measures lrp-7

Other Examples:
Charlottesville-Albemarle MPO’s 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan, Chapter 7