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Strategic Assessments and Scenario Planning

Strategic Assessment

A Strategic Assessment is a voluntary activity that allows a metropolitan planning organization, or MPO, and its member local governments to evaluate what the metropolitan area may look like in the future given the area’s adopted plans and trends of today. Strategic assessments can help MPOs by informing development of land use and transportation plans and investment priorities which address community goals.

To help conduct a strategic assessment, MPOs can request financial and technical assistance through contracts negotiated by ODOT. For more information, contact Brian Hurley (503-986-4398).

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Regional Strategic Planning Model

Strategic Assessments use the Regional Strategic Planning Model (RSPM), which uses data from a variety of sources. To find out what data are needed to conduct a strategic assessment see the Metropolitan Data Decision Checklist. For more information on the assessment process, refer to the Regional Strategic Planning Model User’s Guide.

RSPM is the metropolitan version of the GreenSTEP model, which has been adapted for use by other states in the form of the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Energy and Emissions Reduction Policy Analysis Tool (EERPAT). Portions of the model became the underlying basis of the SHRP2 C16 Rapid Policy Assessment Tool (RPAT, formerly SmartGAP). A partnership with ODOT, FHWA and other users is underway to merge the related tools into a common framework called VisionEval, which will make it easier to share updates and collaborate on using the tool to support performance-based planning efforts across the country.

Place Types

ODOT and DLCD have created a land use classification system for Scenario Planning and Strategic Assessments to better understand the transportation impacts of land use patterns and enable local jurisdictions to make more informed policy decisions. The concept is derived from the RPAT tool (SHRP2 C16 Rapid Policy Assessment Tool) and is a data-driven approach using local data combined with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Smart Location Database block group data.

Place Types are used to quantify neighborhood characteristics by the role that they play in the region, proximity to destinations, and availability of various travel options. These neighborhood characteristics influence the transportation choices individuals make, which ultimately affect the overall amount of vehicle travel in the region. Through comparing the existing built environment characteristics with the expected future environment with the aid of visualization tools, decision makers are able to better understand how changes to infrastructure and land use might influence demographics, individual choices, and travel behavior. Place Types can be beneficial in local processes to forecast future land use inputs for travel models which in turn estimate the impact of future changes to transportation and land use policies.

Further Reading

Scenario Planning

Scenario planning is a method for exploring an area’s long-term future - in other words, "where is the area heading", and "is that where we want to go?" The processes outlined for scenario planning allows areas to work together to consider statewide, regional, and local needs and issues, such as economic development, fiscal impacts, resource use, greenhouse gas emissions, and the effects of different choices on the state, region, community or household.

The Scenario Planning Guidelines were developed as a resource to help MPOs and local governments conduct land use and transportation scenario planning. We encourage metropolitan areas to use the guidelines to design a scenario planning process that best addresses local conditions and builds on other concurrent or recent planning efforts.

Scenario Planning and Strategic Assessments in Oregon

Useful Links and Tools

  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Toolkit: Designed to help local jurisdictions explore the kinds of actions and programs they can undertake to address a number of possible community goals.
  • EcoDrive Campaign Toolbox: Designed to help your jurisdictions’ fleet users adopt driving habits that conserve fuel, reduce emissions, improve safety and save money, or create an EcoDriving campaign for the community.
  • Transportation and Growth Management Guidebooks: These publications may help jurisdictions explore and implement ideas emerging from the results of a strategic assessment.