Planning Implications for Alternative Futures

Planning for the future of Florida’s transportation system is a complicated process. The Florida Department of Transportation is currently going through the process of updating its transportation plan. 

Researchers and students from the University of Florida (UF), Florida State University (FSU), and the University of South Florida (USF) collaborated on research examining how risks and uncertainty should be handled in the transportation plan. Dr. Ruth Steiner, Professor and Director, Center for Health and the Built Environment, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, led the project for UF.  

The final report for the project, FDOT BDV31-977-98 “Assessment of Planning Risks and Alternative Futures for the Florida Transportation Plan Update,” was recently published. This report takes a deep dive into some of the risks facing Florida’s transportation system.  

Looking at risk is a complicated undertaking that has to tease threads out of a complex web of transportation issues. Since risks can be interconnected and subjective, the report is not totally comprehensive; instead, it looks at the most pertinent risks that were identified during the planning process.  

The final report builds on a year’s worth of research that was presented in four technical memoranda. The risks to the transportation system being assessed were related to five broad categories; technology (such as autonomous vehicles), environmental conditions (such as sea-level rise), demographics (such as population and migration), global issues (such as security and trade), and economics.  

This project involved collaboration between three Florida universities as well as considerable input from students. In speaking about the project, Dr. Steiner remarked that it was particularly satisfying to “see students engaging in risk assessment and problem-solving related to issues that they will face in their lifetimes.” Dr. Steiner noted that the students were particularly drawn to researching the impact sea-level rise will have on various aspects of the transportation system.  

For more details, the full report is available here