2050 Scenario Planning

Scenario planning, for our purposes, is thinking about the different ways Central Indiana could grow and change over the next 30 years. We started by combining the region's city, town, and county future land use maps into one master map that we call the "base scenario". Then, we created three more scenario options. Finally, using public and stakeholder feedback, we created the Preferred Scenario. The Preferred Scenario is used in transportation modeling and will be referenced in future planning work.

Base Scenario

The base scenario started with each of the future land use maps for cities, towns, and counties in Central Indiana. Not all of them have the same future date, but they're the best available generalization of what each community expects for its future. Not all communities use the same names or categories for their land use, either. In order to make a regional future land use map, we needed to make a standard, then fit the local categories into those. This combined future land use map was then connected to placetypes and mapped as a base scenario for the region.

  • Future Land Use Maps: The idea of a future land use map is important for scenario planning. It is the planned general uses, like residential, commercial, industrial, etc. for an area in the future. It isn't zoning, and it can include land use changes that occur over time through redevelopment, like envisioning an old strip mall being redeveloped into apartments. This would require a change from commercial use to residential. Future land use maps are generally adopted by municipalities as a part of their comprehensive plan.
  • Placetypes: Placetypes are generalizations about land use characteristics that can be used by scenario planning tools like Community Viz to demonstrate the impacts of different land use choices in the region regarding things like vehicle miles traveled. The set of placetypes established for the Central Indiana scenario planning efforts are in the Placetypes memo, which includes the regional activity center types associated with a placetype and provides a few local examples.

Scenarios for Consideration

The other three scenarios developed are "what if" ideas of ways Central Indiana could develop between now and 2050. What if we focused on clean transportation technology but growth primarily happens in the suburban communities? What is we focused on infill development of the urban and suburban communities rather than large amounts of new greenfield development? What if we focused new growth on transit corridors and really shifted the way we move around the region?


Placetype and Land Use Percentages

  • Clean Suburban: Most new housing is in large, single-family homes following low density development patterns. However, automated, connected, and electric vehicle technology progresses to a point where households begin to own fewer vehicles. Pollution decreases as a result, but public transportation options become less sustainable as fewer people take advantage of them. E-commerce also captures the majority of the retail market, replacing brick-and-mortar retail.
  • Moderate Infill: Residents seem to prefer walkable neighborhoods and there is a slight increase in density, but not enough to make high-frequency transit viable. Micro-mobility options such as bikes and scooters see big increases in demand, along with shared mobility services that optimize multi-passenger routing. E-commerce increases, but residents still value the social interaction of some brick-and-mortar stores. Transportation pollutes somewhat less with an increase in electric vehicles.
  • Transit Supportive: Dense, urban environments become the location of choice for residences and businesses, resulting in more widespread high-capacity transit service. Many households own few or no vehicles and micro-mobility options become more common. New land use regulations focus warehousing and distribution uses into industrial centers. Equity remains a concern and affordable housing policies are implemented to combat rapid gentrification.

Preferred Scenario

Using public and stakeholder input for reference, the final preferred scenario is a hybrid of the Moderate Infill and Transit Supportive scenarios. Check out the Preferred Scenario map below. This preferred scenario placetype allocation was used to determine how population and jobs in 2050 would be allocated to the grid cells, informed by a population and employment forecast that was consistent across scenario options.

The grid cells were then converted to Traffic Analysis Zones (TAZ) and integrated into the IMPO Travel Demand Model (TDM). The IMPO was able to use data output from the TDM to assist in scoring the proposed capacity expansion transportation projects for the region for the 2050 Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP). Click here for more information on the 2050 MTP.

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