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