Right-Sizing Implementation: Iowa and Planning for Economic Uncertainty

As part of follow-on research to NCHRP 19-14 Right Sizing Transportation Investments: A Guidebook for Planning and Programming, EBP, together with Metro Analytics, worked to develop and test two alternative future economic and technological scenarios:

  • Statewide exploration of potential shifts in agricultural markets in the Iowa travel demand model
  • Regional testing of alternative telecommuting and e-commerce futures in partnership with the Des Moines MPO and the regional travel model

Based on the experience, we also developed an Implementation Playbook to guide other agencies on how to use right-sizing scenarios to explore uncertainty. The trade scenario leveraged EBP’s TREDPLAN integrated trade-economic modeling system to help Iowa DOT test over- and under-investment risk.  The telecommuting and e-commerce scenario leveraged research on telecommuting potential by industry and on e-commerce trends accelerated by the pandemic to explore impacts on critical links in the regional highway network.

By providing an understanding of the sensitivity of needs to different futures, scenarios can help agencies more confidently manage risk, directing resources towards assets that are critical under multiple futures, while taking a more careful look at others with more variability in need.