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Strategic Assessments and Scenario Planning

Strategic Assessment

A Strategic Assessment can give metropolitan areas an opportunity to evaluate how their region’s transportation system will perform in the future assuming that current plans are carried out and current trends continue. Strategic Assessments can be used to help to inform long-range planning and through sensitivity testing, help metropolitan areas understand how different aspects of the transportation system, land use, and other factors affect future performance.

Metropolitan areas can use the results of a Strategic Assessment to inform development of land use and transportation plans and investment priorities. In addition, a Strategic Assessment can help the metropolitan area governments to develop a long-range vision for their region which addresses community goals and prepares the community for the future.

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The Regional Strategic Planning Model

Strategic Assessments utilize the Regional Strategic Planning Model (RSPM). The model is run by ODOT, using data from a variety of sources. ODOT provides statewide data and assumptions for the model, and local jurisdictions contribute locally specific data. DLCD is available to provide support to gather and organize the data for use in the model. To find out what data are needed to conduct a Strategic Assessment see the Metropolitan Data Decision Checklist. /ODOT/TD/OSTI/PublishingImages/RSPM_graphic.png RSPM is the metropolitan version of the GreenSTEP model, which was developed by ODOT in a peer-reviewed process during work on the 2011 ODOT Statewide Transportation Strategy. In addition to successful use in several high profile Oregon state and MPO applications, the GreenSTEP model 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), and 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 of the tool is underway to merge the related tools into a common framework called VisionEval, which will ease sharing of model updates and facilitate collaboration on using the tool to support performance-based planning efforts across the country.

Scenario planning

A Strategic Assessment may be used as a standalone exercise or as a first step in a broader planning effort. The Strategic Assessment uses some of the early elements of a scenario planning process to give metropolitan areas a first look allowing them to evaluate how their region’s transportation system will perform in the future assuming that current plans are carried out and current trends continue.

Scenario planning is a method for exploring an areas 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 in Oregon allows areas to work together to consider statewide, regional, and local needs and issues, such as economic development, fiscal impacts, resource use, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and the effects of different choices on the state, region, community or household. The purpose of doing this work is to provide better information for decision-making that combines real community values with choices and options for on the ground solutions. ODOT has completed a state-level scenario plan, the Statewide Transportation Strategy, and Portland Metro and Central Lane metropolitan areas are engaged in regional scenario planning efforts. More information about these efforts appears below.

These Scenario Planning Guidelines were developed as a resource to help Oregon metropolitan organizations and local governments conduct metropolitan land use and transportation scenario planning. Metropolitan areas are encouraged to use the handbook as guidance to design a scenario planning process that best addresses local conditions and builds on other concurrent or recent planning efforts. The recommended scenario planning guidelines are set forth in six steps.

Scenario planning and Strategic Assessments in Oregon

Statewide Transportation Strategy (Oregon Department of Transportation)

The Statewide Transportation Strategy (STS) is a state-level scenario planning effort that examines all aspects of the transportation system, including the movement of people and goods on all modes, and identifies a combination of strategies to reduce GHG emissions. It includes 18 high-level strategies and over 130 potential actions for substantially reducing transportation-related emissions. The STS is a non-regulatory document that charts a path forward for Oregon. It was accepted by the Oregon Transportation Commission in March 2013.

Climate Smart Communities Scenarios Project (Portland Metro)

The Climate Smart Communities Scenarios Project was initiated in response to a mandate from the Oregon Legislature to reduce per capita GHG emissions by 20 percent from cars and small trucks by 2035. There are many ways to reduce emissions while creating healthy, more equitable communities and a vibrant regional economy. The goal of the project is to engage community, business, public health and elected leaders in a discussion with their communities to shape a preferred approach that meets the state mandate and supports local and regional plans for downtowns, main streets and employment areas.

Also at the direction of the Legislature, the Land Conservation and Development Commission adopted rules to guide Metro as it develops and selects a preferred land use and transportation scenario for the Portland metropolitan region to meet a GHG emissions reduction target.

Visit Oregon Metro to learn what the region is doing to create livable communities and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Central Lane Scenario Planning (Central Lane Metropolitan Planning Organization)

The 2009 Jobs and Transportation Act (House Bill 2001) passed by the Oregon Legislature requires the metropolitan planning organization (MPO) that serves Eugene and Springfield to conduct scenario planning and cooperatively select a preferred scenario that accommodates planned population and employment growth while achieving a reduction in GHG emissions from passenger vehicles. To comply with this legislative requirement the Central Lane MPO, in partnership with its member local governments, initiated the scenario planning process. Through this process area jurisdictions will explore options and may learn important lessons that can be used to inform future land use and transportation planning. ODOT is funding this work and providing technical support.

The scenario planning process is divided into three major steps. The first step is focused on understanding what would happen if existing plans and policy directions are implemented over the next 20 years. The second step is about developing and comparing different futures (alternative scenarios). The third step will refine the scenarios that best meet local goals and support cooperatively selecting a preferred scenario. While the GHG reduction goal must be considered during the process, state regulations do not require the region to meet the target. Additionally, the local jurisdictions are not required to implement policies to support the selected scenario. Each local jurisdiction can choose to implement those actions that are most appropriate for their community. The Central Lane MPO will report back to the legislature in 2015 about what they learned from the process.

For more information please visit Central Lane Scenario Planning.

Corvallis Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) & Rogue Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization (RVMPO) Strategic Assessment

A Strategic Assessment is a voluntary activity that allows an 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. With this information, the MPO and jurisdictions can explore different possible outcomes, and use data to inform transportation system plans or other planning efforts and consider if they wish to conduct full scale scenario planning (i.e. evaluate alternative scenarios and select a preferred scenario).

In July 2013, CAMPO formally committed to engage in the Strategic Assessment process. Throughout this process, ODOT and the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) provided CAMPO with financial and technical support. This initial phase of the process was completed in June 2014 and the results of the assessment were presented to the MPO Policy Board and stakeholders. CAMPO continues to work with ODOT and DLCD to further integrate and take advantage of the Strategic Assessment and Scenario Planning exercise as part of the long range planning process.

For more information please visit CAMPO Scenario Planning.

The CAMPO Strategic Assessment was awarded a FHWA 2015 Environmental Excellence Award.

In January 2015, RVMPO formally committed to engage in the Strategic Assessment process. Throughout this process, ODOT and the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) provided RVMPO with financial and technical support. The results of the assessment are expected to be shared with MPO Policy Board and stakeholders in Fall 2015.

For more information please visit RVMPO 2015 Strategic Assessment.

Other Metropolitan Planning Organizations

The OSTI legislation identifies the following five MPOs: Portland Metro, Central Lane, Corvallis Area, Bend, Rogue Valley, and Salem-Keizer. The legislation requires that Portland Metro and Central Lane initiate scenario planning and encourages the other MPOs to consider such efforts. To date, Corvallis Area and Rogue Valley are the only MPOs to voluntarily initiate scenario planning type work by engaging in the Strategic Assessment process, ODOT and the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) have offered to support Strategic Assessments in the other MPOs and have been talking to MPO staff and elected officials.

More specifically, through contracts negotiated by ODOT, metropolitan areas can request financial and technical assistance. The funding available can be used to cover MPO staff time associated with data collection, model assembly and calibration, as well as other costs associated with the planning process. Furthermore, DLCD staff provides assistance with data collection and reporting of results and ODOT staff provides modeling assistance and runs analyses, in addition to providing overall project management support.

For more information on the Strategic Assessment process, including data required and background information on the model used, please refer to the Oregon Strategic Assessment – Regional Strategic Planning Model User’s Guide (Draft) (PDF).

Useful Links and Tools

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Toolkit

The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Toolkit is designed to help local jurisdictions identify and explore the kinds of actions and programs they can undertake to address a number of possible community goals, such as reduce vehicle emissions, increase biking and walking, support downtowns, create healthy livable communities, spur economic development, and more.

Each Strategy Report describes an action, program or policy which can be implemented by a jurisdiction. The report gives an overview of what it is, how it can benefit a community, how costly it is implement (and how long it takes to see results), and gives examples of where it has been used. The reports are an entry point to a topic, and intended as a tool for planners to explore and communicate about the strategies described.

The Case Studies in the Toolkit explore the strategies more deeply and show on the ground examples within Oregon where they have been used. They illustrate the benefit of multiple strategies used together, and show how collaboration and patience are used to achieve results.

EcoDrive Campaign Toolbox

EcoDriving is a method of driving which improves your fuel economy and reduces vehicle emissions. It can also extend the life of your vehicle and improve the safety of everyone using the road. These EcoDrive Campaign Toolbox can be used to help your jurisdictions’ fleet users adopt driving habits that conserve fuel, reduce emissions, improve safety and save money, or create a campaign for the community.

Transportation and Growth Management Guidebooks

Oregon's Transportation and Growth Management Program supports community efforts to expand transportation choices for people. By linking land use and transportation planning, TGM works in partnership with local governments to create vibrant, livable places in which people can walk, bike, take transit or drive where they want to go. The following TGM publications are available online and may help jurisdictions explore and implement ideas emerging from the results of a Strategic Assessment.

  • Parking Made Easy
  • A guide to Transportation Demand Management for Cities
  • Model Development Code for Small Cities
  • Smart Development Code Handbook
  • Infill and Redevelopment Code Handbook
  • Commercial and Mixed Use Code Handbook
  • Main Street: A Highway Runs Through It
  • Neighborhood Street Design Guidelines