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These are the first in an extensive FHWA series of case studies on climate change adaptation and resilience in the transportation sector.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will be highlighting climate change adaptation and resilience work in the transportation sector through a new series developed by the Georgetown Climate Center under a cooperative agreement with FHWA.
In 2010, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) selected five pilot teams from across the country to test a climate change vulnerability assessment model. This conceptual model guided transportation agencies through the process of collecting and integrating climate and asset data in order to identify critical vulnerabilities. During this year-long pilot program, the pilot teams formed a community of practice, exchanged ideas, presented draft results, and participated in a series of webinars and peer exchanges. FHWA used the feedback and lessons learned from the pilot projects to revise the draft conceptual model into the Climate Change & Extreme Weather Vulnerability Assessment Framework.
In 2011, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) selected seven pilot teams from across the country to conduct climate change adaptation assessments. The pilot projects were intended to advance the state of practice for adapting transit systems to the impacts of climate change. The selected projects assessed the vulnerability of transit agency assets and services to climate change hazards such as heat waves and flooding and developed initial adaptation strategies that fit with their transit agency's structure and operations. The pilot project effort is part of FTA's climate adaptation initiative, which also includes an adaptation report, workshops, and webinars. FHWA developed case studies on three of the projects. Full project reports and additional summaries are available on FTA's climate adaptation initiative website.
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires agencies to assess the environmental effects of a proposed project prior to making decisions on the course of action and to identify possible mitigation strategies to minimize the potentially harmful effects. Environmental effects include, among others, impacts on social, cultural, and economic resources, as well as natural resources. In August 2016, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released guidance that describes how Federal departments and agencies should consider the effects of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change impacts in their NEPA reviews. In some instances, States (e.g., California, Washington) led by addressing climate change impacts as part of the NEPA process before the final CEQ guidance was issued. This series of case studies explores examples of how different projects have used their NEPA or other environmental reviews to plan for climate change impacts.