The Metropolitan Council is the regional coordinator of land use planning and the metropolitan planning organization (MPO) for the seven-county Minneapolis-St. Paul region. State law mandates that the Metropolitan Council develop a comprehensive development guide outlining regional goals, strategies and long range policy plans for the metropolitan systems of transportation, wastewater treatment and parks. As part of this comprehensive development guide, state mandate requires that the Council prepare population, household and employment forecasts for the seven-county area, and allocates these forecasts to each individual community. The Metropolitan Council uses these forecasts as the basis for metropolitan system plans for each city and for socioeconomic data inputs to the Council’s travel demand model.
In 2011, consultants for the Metropolitan Council completed the estimation of parameters for a socio-economic land use forecasting model for the Twin Cities metropolitan region based upon a disaggregate sample of observed year 2005 household and employment locations and land uses. Additional adjustment parameters for this model were then calibrated to match target year 2000 zonal totals of households and employment by type. The model was then validated by performing a forecast using updated networks, control totals, and exogenous zonal input variables for the year 2010, and comparing to household and job locations as reported in the decennial Census. Metropolitan Council staff also performed hypothetical sensitivity tests based upon counterfactual 2010 scenarios, such as:
• "Bridge Sever" sensitivity test - in which links crossing the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers in Dakota County were deleted in the input network
• "Double Highway Speeds" - in which free-flow speeds were doubled on highway links throughout the East Metro (east of downtown St. Paul)
• "No Transit" - eliminating all transit within the metro region.
• "No MUSA" - eliminating land use restrictions inside rural planning areas
The results of these validation back-casting and sensitivity testing runs shed light on the comparative strengths of the Twin Cities socioeconomic land use allocation model as well as various challenges of land use forecasting more generally. Observations derived from the process were used to formulate recommendations for further improvement in a second phase of model development, now underway.