How we developed the plan
How we developed the plan

Driving forces

Long-range planning requires not only a clear vision, but also the ability to predict how our population may grow, where we will live and work, and what we will want from our community. In the past, our forecasts have been based on assumptions built around current trends, but the future keeps getting harder to predict.

 We anticipate and are experiencing profound shifts in many of the forces that will impact regional transportation needs including economic changes, demographics, technology and climate change. The impact of these forces and how they will interact is unclear.

A preliminary step in the Connected KC 2050 planning process was to bring stakeholders together to embark on an interdisciplinary exercise to review and refresh our vision and provide a policy framework for updating all of our regional plans. We engaged policy committees and other interested parties in a scenario planning process designed to help advance our vision, regardless of what the future brings.

We used this scenario planning process to: 

  • Examine key forces and trends.
  • Anticipate potential impacts (positive and negative) on land use, infrastructure, mobility, housing, economic growth, the workforce, social equity, public health and the environment.
  • Reconfirm and then refresh our vision.
  • Create a policy framework for regional plans.

Even as we complete this plan, the region is in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic which has created unprecedented disruption to public health, social interaction, economic activity and significant changes in travel behavior. While these circumstances are hopefully temporary, they vividly illustrate the kinds of profound changes the region must consider and respond to as we plan for the future we want.

We hosted a series of events to gather thoughts on what future forces may have the greatest impact on our transportation system.
As an initial step, we attempted to anticipate what different alternative futures might bring. Through a series of workshops, we worked with stakeholders to identify emerging forces and discuss their potential impacts. What opportunities do these emerging driving forces create that we should leverage to advance our march towards our vision?  What challenges do we need to be ready to adapt to?  We engaged policy committees in discussions about impacts we are most concerned about and interested in and relationships or intersections between forces. Next, we consolidated information on trends and impacts into clearly defined scenarios. What is likely to happen if we continue with business as usual? What if the economy stagnates or becomes increasingly unstable over an extended period? Will new technologies save the day, or will they cause new problems? Will a changing climate bring environmental issues to the top, and how are we likely to respond? What data and analysis could be used to evaluate each scenario? Stakeholder conversations identified the following set of forces as the most likely and significant:

Demographic changes

  • Fewer working adults to support retiree benefits.
  • Competition for resources between ages and races.
  • Demand for transportation choices.
  • Labor shortages and rising unemployment.

Economic changes

  • Increase in income inequality.
  • Contract workers make employment more unpredictable.
  • More frequent and severe boom/bust cycles

Climate changes

  • Increase in extreme weather.
  • Higher energy costs.
  • Greater impact on low-income residents.
  • More prevalent disease and illnesses related to heat

Technological changes

  • Increase in income inequality.
  • Contract workers make employment more unpredictable.
  • More frequent and severe boom/bust cycles
The scenario discussion suggested the elevation of certain concepts:
  • A focus on people as well as place.
  • The importance of resilience in the face of certain change with unforeseeable impacts.
  • A vision that will allow us to become more nimble and create plans that can more easily adapt to changing circumstance.
In May 2018, the MARC Board of Directors endorsed an updated version of the shared vision for our region — one that balances a thriving economy, social equity and a healthy environment, meeting today’s needs without compromising the needs of future generations.

Needs assessment

Following the work on driving forces, another major step in developing the plan was a needs assessment.

With input from MARC policy committees and the public, we identified key needs for our future transportation system. For each need, we examined current challenges and ways we could measure progress. Where possible, we created maps to help illustrate areas where needs are most prevalent and may overlap. While not every need can be quantified in this way, we developed a series of maps and illustrations to provide a context for future investment decisions, including project selection criteria for this plan.

Forecasting the future

Transportation models represent how people travel. Mathematical relationships are used to represent — or model — human behavior in making these choices. They require a series of assumptions in order to work and are limited by the data available to make forecasts.

Models are important because future transportation plans are based in part on what the models predict will happen rather than on what individual people may think will happen.

However, models provide forecasts only for those factors and alternatives which are explicitly included in the equations of the models. Other performance measures that cannot be modeled — traffic crashes, bridge and pavement condition and environmental factors such air and water quality — also play a role in shaping transportation plans.

In order to test our transportation model, we created a series of scenarios and assessed how the model responded to each one.

Key findings of this work reinforced the important role that land use and development will play on transportation system performance, the strong potential to increase use of transit, bicycling and walking throughout the region, potential benefits of electric vehicles, and potential impacts of autonomous and connected vehicle technologies in the future.

Public engagement

During the public engagement process, MARC provided a variety of engagement opportunities in hopes of gathering input from a diverse group of residents. In the beginning of the planning process, MARC staff did pop-up engagement at grocery stores, libraries and on transit vehicles and various times of the day and days of the week, seeking to gain feedback on transportation needs from a broad cross section of the public. Later on, public meeting locations on transit lines were selected to provide those who do not own their own vehicle the ability to attend. MARC also provided online opportunities for feedback, including an online public meeting and survey that were mobile-friendly, for those who preferred, or did not have access to a computer or the internet at home. Additionally, in-person public meetings were advertised in multiple newspapers, including a Spanish language paper. A sign language interpreter was hired for a public meeting in which a member of the deaf community requested accommodations to attend and participate.

Our outreach began in 2018 with an overview of how the plan will be developed. We explained the process for the needs assessment and future scenarios.

Our first online public survey asked respondents their thoughts on several transportation goals:

  • Economic vitality
  • Placemaking
  • Equity
  • Transportation choices
  • Safety and security
  • System condition
  • System performance
  • Public health
  • Environment
  • Climate change and energy use


Pop-ups at grocery stores, public libraries and the KC Streetcar throughout February and March 2018.

Online survey

Completed surveys
Students from the Truman Heartland Community Foundation Youth Advisory Council shared their thoughts on what transportation might look like in the year 2050.

In 2019, we hosted six public meetings to share progress on the plan development and gather feedback about the types of projects they felt should be prioritized at the following locations:

  • Gladstone (Community Center)
  • South Kansas City (Kansas City Police Department South Patrol Station)
  • Independence (Sermon Center)
  • Olathe (City Hall)
  • Kansas City, Kansas (Chamber of Commerce)
  • Downtown Kansas City, Missouri (Mid-America Regional Council office)

We also made an online version of the public meeting. The opportunity to share feedback was publicized in area newspapers, on Facebook and Twitter and through email blasts as well as requests for other organizations to share. We also asked the cities and entities that served as meeting locations to share with their networks.

Completed surveys

Both the in-person and online engagements included a survey asking participants how they would spend limited funds — what types of projects aren’t worth future investment, what types should receive funding within the current budget and what kinds of projects should we find a way to pay for. 

Respondents heavily favored finding new money to invest in transit and did not favor spending money on new roadway capacity to serve possible future development.

Survey Reponses

Stakeholder engagement

Throughout the planning process, we shared our progress and solicited feedback from partner organizations and MARC committees.

  • Development Council Investors
  • South Kansas City Alliance
  • A Blue Springs homeowner association
  • Northland Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Downtown Council Board and Infrastructure Committee
  • Equity Network
  • Supply Chain Management Professionals
  • Missouri Municipal League West Gate Division (Raymore)
  • Eastern Jackson County high school focus group
  • Kansas City Communities for All Ages Advisory Board
  • MARC’s Commission on Aging
  • Missouri Transportation Legislative Briefing with Aging Focus
  • City of Basehor City Council
  • Head Start parent leadership focus group
  • City of Grandview
  • Kansas City Area Transportation Authority Board of Directors
  • Regional Transit Alliance
  • Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission
  • Northeast Johnson County Chamber of Commerce
  • AIA Kansas City Pillars leadership program
  • MARC Total Transportation Policy Committee and its subcommittees
  • MARC Board of Directors

Feedback on projects

We issued a call for projects to be included in Connected KC 2050. In total, 39 agencies submitted 425 projects totaling more than $14.2 billion. Projects that would maintain, operate or rehabilitate our current system were given top priority. On Oct. 17, 2019, we asked our planning and policy committees to provide feedback on the remaining projects to determine which ones were high, medium or low priority.

Roughly 50% of our committee members participated in the process. We also asked the public to provide comments. This feedback helped determine if a project was included on the plan’s financially constrained list — projects we believe we will have enough funding for — or the illustrative list — those that will receive support when new funding sources are identified in the future.

Final public engagement

As we were wrapping up this plan in the spring of 2020, stay-at-home orders related to COVID-19 required us to rethink the strategy for the final round of public engagement. We worked to balance the inability to hold in-person meetings with the stipulations outlined by our Public Participation Plan and Title VI and Limited English Proficiency Plan.

We chose to use Mindmixer, an online engagement tool, to help facilitate a review of the final draft and gather comments. The Mindmixer site was open to the public from May 3 to June 2, 2020. We heard from several innovative thinkers with intriguing ideas, many of which fall under Next Steps as future planning work to be undertaken by MARC and our partners. There were no comments that indicated the plan was missing important elements or failing to address important needs for the region.

A few things we heard...

Close Search Window