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Long-Range Forecasting

Map ThumbnailAs the region's designated metropolitan planning organization, MARC must predict future growth and traffic patterns each time it updates the Long-Range Transportation Plan — a plan that guides our transportation investments that use federal funds. Major highways are planned years in advance, and to plan correctly we need to know how and where our population and employment will grow and change.

Long-range planning requires much more than just predictions of population growth and decline. To plan for efficient transportation systems, we must also predict how land will be used.

  • Where will our employment centers be, our retail development, our green spaces, our hospitals and schools?
  • Will our growth rate follow current trends?
  • Or will changing forces such as climate change, globalization of the economy, technological change and demographic shifts cause us to grow faster than expected — or slower?

Using a GIS-based tool called "Paint the Town," planners can "paint" area maps with future land-use patterns and predict the numbers of people and jobs consistent with those patterns.

Map ThumbnailCities and counties develop their own long-range plans, and the Technical Forecast Committee works with these local governments to aggregate local plans into a regional forecast.

Statistics and GIS software are used to create econometric models, using logistic regression, that weights various factors, such as age of housing, median income, and road density, in a way that does the best job of predicting land use change. Three models predict the probability of new development, redevelopment, and decline. Combined, these probabilities provide the spatial distribution of change in land use, population and employment by 2040, if past trends continue.

GIS can also help us manage and visualize the information used to create a second land-use scenario where mixed-use neighborhood centers strengthen and develop, higher densities of people and jobs support priority transit corridors, and important natural areas are protected.

Maps and data analysis from GIS help elected officials, the public and planners review land use and policy options for the Kansas City region and make informed assessments.

For more information, contact Research Services Director Frank Lenk at or GIS Planner Andrea Repinsky at