Guidance in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) act continued a trend toward an objective, data-driven, performance-based planning process, while also emphasizing a broad spectrum of focus areas and the option to include scenario planning as a means to further explore unknown futures. From a practitioner’s perspective, one could argue that such guidance requires the use of two different and potentially conflicting approaches – one focused on hard data and analysis, and one departing from anything we can estimate with certainty. Therefore, determining exactly where and how to integrate scenario planning can be challenging. Success will not likely be found in a box off the shelf, but will require a creative combination of technical resources and strategic guesswork customized to a project’s scope and scale.

This presentation outlines the customization of scenario planning techniques and assumptions for the Delmarva Freight Plan. The plan is a multi-state, multi-jurisdictional, multimodal, and MAP-21 focused effort to enhance freight planning and related economic opportunities on the tri-state area covering Delaware and the eastern shores of Maryland and Virginia. Scenario planning explored the unknown collective impact of regional freight influences to assist decision-makers in understanding the implication of transportation changes or decisions. The approach integrated a commodity-flow model, extensive performance measurement, and scenario variables depicting trendline versus accelerated employment growth, or constrained versus enhanced infrastructure.