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C h a p t e r 3 Transportation Agency Involvement in Visioning Introduction Transportation Perspectives and Considerations The outcome of a visioning process and how the bene fits accrue depend on many factors, including the scope and scale The expected benefits of a transportation agency's involvement of the project; the transportation agency's level of involve- in a visioning process tend to accrue in the long run and are ment; the sensitivity of the community to transportation, subject to uncertainty, whereas the direct resource or oppor- environmental, and community issues; and the engagement tunity costs are often immediate and known. Given these of stakeholders and elected officials. A practitioner must take circumstances, it seems unlikely that these processes would into account these factors, and others, when assessing the be undertaken by transportation agencies at all, and yet vision- potential positive and negative outcomes of participation in ing in support of transportation decision making is increasingly a vision. To help the transportation practitioner determine common across the United States. whether to engage in a visioning process, this chapter presents A transportation agency will choose to become involved in a set of factors and the basis for assessing those factors, for a visioning process when outcomes are expected to be more agency managers to consider. efficient and more appropriate than what might otherwise The factors are designed to help answer the following occur. The benefits of visioning are related to those of the questions when a transportation agency must decide whether collaborative, interdisciplinary CSS approach. Consider- to provide support for, participate in, or lead a visioning able research has documented the benefits and business process. case of CSS within planning processes. CSS benefits are often counted as direct cost savings resulting from streamlined Would participation in a visioning process improve completion of projects or avoided costs of redesign or litiga- public perception of an agency, or risk public trust in an tion. The key characteristics and activities of visioning are agency? similar, including engagement of stakeholders, transparency Is a vision likely to improve delivery of a planned or stalled of discussions, documentation of commitments, creative project? outreach and involvement, and consensus agreements. Is a visioning process likely to resolve or renew conflicts? These similarities support the use of the existing research on Would a vision increase public ownership in a planning the benefits of CSS practices as a relative (although certainly process and the outcome of that process? flawed) proxy for the benefits of visioning. Would a vision enhance future process and project outcomes, However, from a transportation agency's perspective, the or impede efforts? benefits and business case for visioning are not as clear. CSS Are the outcomes of the vision likely to be unduly influenced approaches tend to identify singular solutions at the project by participants? level, and often focus on considerations such as location What are the possibilities of arriving at suboptimal solu- and design of a transportation project. Visioning processes tions, from the agency's perspective? tend to be geared toward identifying needs and alternatives, Is the agency prepared to address related topics within a and focus on considerations such as community values, long- vision, such as land use, development patterns, or environ- term development goals, and desired elements and choices of a mental issues? transportation system. The outcomes of visioning are subject 16