Scenario-based Transportation Planning with Involvement of Metropolitan Planning Organizations

Report No: 09-CR5

Published in 2009

About the report:

The Office of Virginia's Secretary of Transportation identified 21 transportation policies and 42 performance criteria in Virginia's long-range multimodal transportation plan, VTrans2025. A subsequent planning effort, VTrans2035, provided direction for the effort described in this report. Although there has been considerable discussion of the potential impact of the VTrans policies on the Commonwealth as a whole, there has been little effort to characterize the regional and local impact of the policies. Further, the sensitivity of the policies to a variety of assumptions about the future needs to be better understood at statewide, regional, and local levels. This research effort developed and tested a methodology for scenario-based assessments of the impacts of the VTrans polices for several regions of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The methodology is implemented in an MS Excel workbook that is available for download at This report describes a typical application of the methodology for a locality or regional planning organization, e.g., a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) or Planning District Commission (PDC), to assess the impact of statewide multimodal policies across several of its long-range planning scenarios. The report includes a review of scenario-based planning, documentation of future scenarios, preliminary results of a survey of MPOs in Virginia for their best practices in scenario-based planning, an application of the methodology to the Roanoke region of Virginia, and recommendations. A major recommendation is that the methodology be used in VTrans2035 to catalyze and benchmark Virginia MPOs and localities in their respective efforts involving scenario-based transportation planning. The effort provides a cost-effective analysis tool that enables VTrans and MPOs and PDCs to identify and collaborate on the regional impacts of statewide transportation planning. The tool can further be cost-effective for individual MPOs and localities to engage in scenario-based long-range planning as encouraged by the Federal Highway Administration, particularly to guide the assumptions that are input to regional travel demand models. Appendix A provides the survey and study of scenario-based planning best practices. Appendix B documents the design of the Microsoft Excel workbook developed in this effort. Appendix C provides the lists of statewide policies, scenarios, and performance criteria used in the deployment of the workbook. Appendix D describes a related input/output analysis of economic growth based on transportation investments that was requested by the Office of Intermodal Planning and Investment. The developed methodology is being adapted for long-range scenario-based analysis of the Afghanistan Sustainable Infrastructure Plan, with research support from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


  • James Hamilton Lambert, Matthew J. Schroeder, Wayne S. Ferguson

Last updated: November 23, 2023

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