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FHWA partnered with State Departments of Transportation (DOTs) and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to pilot approaches to conduct climate change and extreme weather vulnerability assessments of transportation infrastructure and to analyze options for adapting and improving resiliency. This pilot program was jointly sponsored by the FHWA Office of Environment, Planning and Realty, and the Office of Infrastructure. FHWA will issue a final report on the pilot program in 2016.
The 19 projects were developed to test and build on FHWA's Climate Change & Extreme Weather Vulnerability Assessment Framework (December 2012). FHWA will use the experiences of the pilot projects to update and expand the framework. A four-page case study and a final project report was developed for each project and will be posted to this page as they become available. Pilot teams also discussed preliminary results in peer exchanges and presented their results in a series of webinars.
The ADOT team conducted a study to identify hotspots where highways are vulnerable to associated hazards from high temperatures, drought, and intense storms. The project focused on the Interstate corridor connecting Nogales, Tucson, Phoenix, and Flagstaff, which includes a variety of urban areas, landscapes, biotic communities, and climate zones and presents a range of weather conditions applicable to much of Arizona.
The vulnerability assessment approach drew from methodologies developed by FHWA and the Washington State DOT 2010-2011 climate resilience pilot project. The pilot assessed vulnerability in four counties by scoring asset criticality and potential impact. The pilot identified adaptation options at four prototype locations of vulnerable road segments. The Caltrans District 1 team formalized their adaptation methodology into a tool to assist with the evaluation and prioritization of adaptation options.
The CAMPO team used a data and stakeholder-driven approach to assess risks to nine critical assets from flooding, drought, extreme heat, wildfire, and ice. The project team conducted a criticality workshop, developed local climate projections, and performed risk assessments for each asset.
Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) conducted a systems-level vulnerability assessment of bridge and culvert structures from inland flooding associated with extreme rainfall events. The assessment included data collection and field review, hydrologic and hydraulic evaluation, criticality assessment and hydraulic design criteria evaluation.
The Hillsborough MPO team assessed the vulnerability of select surface transportation assets to sea level rise, storm surge, and flooding in order to identify cost-effective risk management strategies for incorporation into short-term and long-range transportation planning.
To evaluate future flood conditions, the Iowa DOT team developed a methodology to integrate climate projections of rainfall within a river system model to predict river flood response to climate change. Iowa DOT tested this methodology in two river basins to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of technology to produce scenarios of future flood conditions. They also analyzed the potential impact of the future floods on six bridges to evaluate vulnerability to climate change and extreme weather and inform the development of adaptation options.
The MaineDOT team identified transportation assets that are vulnerable to flooding from sea level rise and storm surge in six coastal towns. The team developed depth-damage functions and adaptation design options at three of the sites and evaluated the costs and benefits of the alternative design structures.
Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) conducted a vulnerability assessment in two counties. The project team developed a three-tiered vulnerability assessment and adaptation process using flood inundation modeling, mapping, vulnerability and risk ratings, and expert input. SHA engineers, planners, and maintenance personnel used the assessment results to brainstorm adaptation measures.
The MassDOT team sought to better understand the vulnerability of the I-93 Central Artery/Tunnel system (CA/T) in Boston to sea level rise and extreme storm events. The team combined a state-of-the-art hydrodynamic flood model with agency-driven knowledge and priorities to assess vulnerabilities and develop adaptation strategies.
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), the California Department of Transportation, District 4 (Caltrans) and San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) partnered to assess adaptation options for key transportation assets vulnerable to sea level rise (SLR) in the San Francisco Bay Area. The project team refined their previous vulnerability assessment with additional SLR mapping and hydraulic analysis. Using the revised vulnerability data, the project team developed a comprehensive suite of adaptation strategies for three focus areas in the Alameda County sub-region, and through an evaluation process, they selected five adaptation strategies for further development. The strategies cover physical and policy-based options, as well as future research needs.
Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) conducted a climate-based vulnerability assessment of primarily MDOT-owned and operated transportation infrastructure. The assessment overlaid projected climate data onto MDOT's existing asset management database to help identify locations and infrastructure that may be at risk. The assessment found that the most at-risk transportation assets were situated in the southern third of the state, where the state's larger urban areas are located. The assessment was a first step to help the department protect the transportation infrastructure investments in Michigan.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) pilot project team conducted a vulnerability assessment of bridges, culverts, pipes, and roads paralleling streams to flooding related to increased heavy precipitation in two districts. Based on preliminary vulnerability assessment results, they selected two culverts to conduct case studies of facility-level adaptation planning that considered the potential for damage and economic losses associated with flash flooding. The project findings and recommendations are informing MnDOT's ongoing asset management planning.
The NYSDOT team assessed the vulnerability of the transportation system to increased temperature, precipitation and frequency of extreme storms in the rural Lake Champlain Basin. The team developed a benefits valuation approach to help decision makers prioritize infrastructure and assess when to undertake culvert replacements considering social, economic, and environmental factors. They evaluated vulnerability, criticality and risk, and developed a method to apply an environmental benefits multiplier to each culvert.
The NCTCOG team assessed the vulnerability of existing and planned transportation infrastructure in the Dallas-Fort Worth region, where extreme weather events will add an additional stress on the transportation system in the rapidly growing region.
Oregon's north coast is served by highway routes that run along coastal bluffs, rivers and estuaries, and a mountain range. In the past, precipitation events have resulted in flooding, high water, landslides, rock falls, and coastal erosion. The Oregon DOT pilot project engaged maintenance and technical staff and utilized asset data to assess the vulnerability of highway infrastructure to extreme weather events and higher sea levels. For select priority hazard areas, the pilot conducted further analysis of specific adaptation sites, options, benefits, and costs.
The South Florida team, led by the Broward MPO, focused on a four-county region in conducting a detailed geospatial analysis to calculate vulnerability scores for "regionally significant" road and passenger rail infrastructure. The study also recommended ways for partner agencies to incorporate the vulnerability results into their normal decision-making processes.
The TDOT team conducted an extreme weather vulnerability assessment of transportation infrastructure across the state. The project team compiled a statewide inventory of the most critical transportation infrastructure and used historical and projected climate information and stakeholder feedback to develop rankings of transportation assets vulnerabile to temperature extremes, precipitation, wind, and tornadoes in each county.
Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) examined adaptation options in the Skagit River Basin (Basin), a highly vulnerable area of the state. The Basin was the focus of a major flood risk reduction study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). WSDOT worked with the Seattle District of the Corps and the Skagit County Public Works Department to identify vulnerabilities and opportunities for flood risk reduction. This pilot demonstrated the importance of coordinating transportation adaptation planning with other ongoing flood risk reduction efforts like the Skagit River Flood Risk Management General Investigation Study.
The WFLHD/ADOT&PF team assessed three unique climate change issues in the state of Alaska. In Kivalina, the pilot considered the impact of the loss of sea ice, sea level rise, and wind on shoreline erosion of the coastal runway. In Igloo Creek and along the Dalton Highway, the pilot considered the impacts of increased temperature (resulting in permafrost melt) and increased precipitation on landslides and pavement cracking.
Representatives from Maryland State Highway Administration, Tennessee DOT, Hillsborough MPO, and Broward MPO present results and lessons learned from their climate change resilience pilot projects. View the webinar recording.
Representatives from Oregon DOT, Washington State DOT, Caltrans District 1, and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission present results and lessons learned from their climate change resilience pilot projects. View the webinar recording.
Representatives from Arizona DOT, Capitol Area MPO (Austin), and North Central Texas COG (Dallas-Ft. Worth) present results and lessons learned from their climate change resilience pilot projects. Additionally, a representative from the U.S. DOT Volpe Center presents results and lessons learned from the climate vulnerability aspects of the Central New Mexico Scenario Planning Pilot Project.
Representatives from Connecticut DOT, Maine DOT, New York State DOT, and Massachusetts State DOT present results and lessons learned from their climate change resilience pilot projects. View the webinar recording
Representatives from Minnesota DOT, Michigan DOT, Iowa DOT, and the FHWA Western Federal Lands Highway Division present results and lessons learned from their climate change resilience pilot projects. View the webinar recording