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Oregon Mosaic: User Guide

Mosaic is designed to be used within the transportation planning process, from beginning to end. Before applying the tool, it is important to know what preliminary work must be done and to get an overview of steps you will take to engage it.

Before you start

Before engaging Mosaic, users need to complete a few steps in the transportation planning process, following established Oregon transportation planning procedures and guidance. These initial steps are briefly described below.

All transportation planning processes in Oregon, as outlined in Goal 1 of the Statewide Planning Goals, must meaningfully involve the public in developing ideas and making decisions. ODOT’s public involvement policy calls for involving the public in important decisions by providing for early, open, continuous, and effective public participation in and access to key planning and project decision-making processes. According to the agency’s Transportation System Planning Guidelines, advisory groups should be involved and made up of a variety of traditional and non-traditional interests, including underserved populations. The public involvement process is especially important in weighting Mosaic’s non-monetizable indicators. It is important that the weighting process be done by stakeholders, including the public, and that it reflect community values.

In some transportation planning processes, identifying the study area is a simple exercise. The study area may, for example, constitute an entire city, metropolitan area, or county. However, it is worth having a conversation before engaging Mosaic to confirm the study area is correct.

  • Are urban growth boundary expansions being considered?
  • Are these part of the existing travel demand model?
  • Is the area actually a corridor and if so, how many geographies are there in the corridor?
  • Is the study area primarily in one city with the exception of one bundle that extends into a neighboring city?

The reason it is critical to be clear on the study area upfront is that data sets need to be compiled and assessed for accuracy before the Mosaic process begins.

If there is data...

  • From two different travel demand models or
  • From one travel demand model with some assessments outside of a model or
  • From two or more agency geographic information systems


  • A procedure must be followed to ensure consistency among datasets or to combine datasets

The step of surveying existing conditions and forecasting future conditions to identify needs and opportunities is also outside of the Mosaic process. The Transportation Planning Rule and other resource documents, including ODOT’s Analysis Procedures Manual, include best practices and guidance for assessing existing and future conditions. This work should be done before engaging Mosaic because bundles of actions need to address some set of needs and opportunities; they represent alternatives for achieving the plan’s vision and goals.

Agencies and stakeholders must next identify bundles of transportation actions for analysis. These are sets of individual transportation projects and programs (potential solutions) being considered for inclusion in a system or corridor plan, and may be simply be referred to as "alternatives" or “bundles” for Mosaic. Additionally, Mosaic can enable agencies to evaluate vehicular demand management strategies and other programs in bundles of actions. Programmatic options users may include are further described in the Mosaic Programs Guide.

To realize the full potential of Mosaic, users should have access to a travel forecasting model and set of geographic information system, or GIS, data. Travel model data is essential for several monetized indicators. While Mosaic can be used without a travel forecasting model, the result will be a less robust level of analysis because less robust data is used and fewer impacts can be monetized.

The GIS data needs to be current and available at the appropriate geographic scale(s). The types of GIS data required for the suite of Mosaic Indicators include: demographic, land use, transportation facilities, environmental, and cultural resource data. Use of GIS data is central to several Multi-Objective Decision Analysis indicators.

In preparing to use Mosaic, planners should meet with their GIS and modeling staff to make sure travel demand forecasting tools and GIS databases are current, that the data needed are available, and that staff is available to conduct analyses and output results for Mosaic.

Mosaic is not a tool to be run in one afternoon. Rather, it is designed for use throughout a plan’s project identification and evaluation steps. Once the evaluation step has been completed and the needed data entered into the tool, Mosaic provides outputs that help decision makers understand the costs and benefits of transportation investments.

User Guide

There are six steps when applying Mosaic:

Before applying Mosaic, planning agencies will have identified various “bundles” of transportation actions to be analyzed. Bundles are comprised of different transportation capital projects and programs. Each bundle may represent a different approach to addressing the needs and opportunities identified for a study area. Bundles can be organized in many different ways – by theme, funding scenario, modal emphasis, etc.

In the bundle worksheet, users enter key information about the bundles themselves (e.g., location, period of analysis) and list the projects in each bundle, in addition to capital cost estimates and funding years for each project. It is assumed that cost estimates will be an order-of-magnitude, unit-cost level of detail, prepared according to ODOT’s guidance on planning-level cost estimates.

The benefit-cost analysis components of Mosaic require that costs be identified on a project-by-project basis and that the costs of each project or program ideally be allocated in the specific year of expenditure.

The first step is to identify and describe each bundle

The bundle worksheet in the Mosaic tool is a series of questions about assumptions used for the analysis. Describe and list the projects in each bundle, then provide capital cost estimates and funding years for each project.

Download a PDF of Step 1 for more information about bundles and how to accomplish this step in Mosaic.

Before applying Mosaic, users must understand the Mosaic Framework and key terms.

The Mosaic Framework

The Mosaic framework is based on the goals and policies of the Oregon Transportation Plan, or OTP. The framework includes nine categories for transportation system performance, each with its own objective and set of general and specific indicators, which are the backbone of Mosaic. The nine categories are similar to the evaluation criteria typically established at the beginning of any planning process. Mosaic can therefore help users establish their evaluation framework by providing researched and tested categories and indicators.

Here are some key phrases you will encounter when learning the Mosaic framework. Note that category and indicator names and terms generally reflect the same meaning as they have in the OTP. See the glossary for other key Mosaic terms.

Mosaic Framework Terms

  • Categories of Transportation System Performance: General topics or outcomes against which potential decisions will be evaluated. Performance measures and evaluation methods are proposed and developed under each category.
  • General Indicators: Aspects of the categories of transportation system performance that will be evaluated, and for which a few measures or indicators are defined. There are two to four general indicators defined for each category of transportation system performance.
  • Specific Indicators: A measure of performance, described as clearly as possible in terms of scope and unit of measurement. There are one to three specific indicators for each general indicator.

Developing Specific Indicators

Indicator development teams were established for each category of transportation system performance. The teams worked collaboratively to select and define the specific indicators and their recommendations were incorporated into Mosaic.

Download a PDF of Step 2 for more information about the Mosaic framework.

Some Mosaic information can be measured in dollars and some in other units of measure (time, area, etc.). All impacts (benefits and disbenefits) measured in dollars can be compared easily and added to and subtracted from one another, but the values of indicators not measured in dollars are not so easily compared. For example, how would you compare the value of environmental resources to the value of sidewalks or the value of safe routes available in the event of an emergency?

Mosaic addresses questions like these through the use of Multi-Objective Decision Analysis, a process of structured decision making in which stakeholders assign weights to Mosaic’s categories and indicators. This weight reflects stakeholders’ values in the form of assessment of the relative importance of one indicator as compared with another.

Involve Stakeholders

Weighting typically is done in small groups of stakeholders and may be done more than once during the process.

Download a PDF of Step 3 for more information about the weighting process.

Step 4 of the Mosaic User Guide is a set of detailed instructions that correspond to the individual worksheets (or "tabs") in the Excel workbook that is the Mosaic tool.

The Step 4 document is available for download in a printer-friendly PDF document. Users should download these instructions to guide them through the process of entering data into the Mosaic tool. Note that users can also reference the Mosaic tool documentation for more detailed information about how the tool is working.

Download Step 4

Download a PDF of Step 4 for detailed instructions on populating the Mosaic tool.

When all required data is entered into Mosaic, the tool produces a set of outputs enabling the user to compare the costs and benefits (both monetized and non-monetized) of each bundle. The Mosaic outputs are presented in several different formats designed to help the user understand the tradeoffs among bundles. Mosaic results and outputs are presented in tables and charts in several worksheets within the tool, and summaries of inputs and assumptions are also available.

Analyzing the Mosaic Results

Users should look at the "Output Sheets" and "Output Charts" worksheets first, as a way to compare the costs and benefits of each bundle.

Download a PDF of Step 5 for more details on how to interpret Mosaic results.

Mosaic is not a tool to be run in one afternoon. Rather, it is designed to be used during the evaluation phase of a transportation planning process to compare possible actions and investments. This step of the User Guide provides guidance on how Mosaic results can be used to inform transportation decision-making. Mosaic produces valuable information in rich detail, but it’s important to note that Mosaic outputs cannot in themselves dictate a decision. Rather, the information offers stakeholders a transparent assessment of value, benefits and costs to help inform decisions about whether to proceed with a set of investments.

Using the Mosaic Results

Mosaic results are rich with detail. Step 6 provides guidance on how to interpret and present the information that Mosaic produces.

Download a PDF of Step 6 for more information on interpreting Mosaic results.

Download all six steps of Mosaic’s user guide together: User Guide - Full Document.