The presenters included: Gina Filosa of the U.S. DOT Volpe Center; Rob Hyman of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Office of Natural Environment, Cris Liban of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Maureen Kelly of the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization, and Karl Peet of the Chicago Transit Authority.
Gina Filosa: Great, thank you. Hi everyone. This is Gina Filosa from US DOT Volpe Center. I want to welcome everyone to today's third webinar in the Federal Highway Administration's four part series on climate change and extreme weather vulnerability assessment. This series follows the general structure of Federal Highway's Climate Change and Extreme Weather Vulnerability Assessment framework. We'll talk a bit more about that framework in a minute but the framework is compromised of three main components: defining the project scope, assessing vulnerability, integrating vulnerability into decision-making.
The first webinar in our series covered the first component, defining the projecting scope. The session focused on defining the study objectives, determining transportation asset criticality, and developing climate input. In the second session, representatives from three transportation agencies talked about how they used the information on transportation assets and climate projections to identify the vulnerabilities in the transportation network. Each of the agencies used a different approach to conduct the assessment, and described the range of qualitative and quantitative approaches that are available. In today's webinar, the presenters will focus on the final step in the framework, which is integrating results into decision-making. And in the webinar series final session, which is next week, staff from the New Jersey DOT and New York City Transit will discuss the need for proactive planning for extreme weather events based on their experience with Hurricane Sandy. All of the webinars in the series are being recorded and will be available on Federal Highway's climate change adaptation website soon.
So I'm just going to walk quickly through the agenda for today's session. First, Rob Hyman from Federal Highway will give a brief introduction to the vulnerability assessment framework. Then we'll hear examples from three agencies on how they're using the results of assessments to inform transportation decision-making and to develop adaptation options. First, we'll hear from Cris Liban at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority on their climate adaptation initiative. Next, Maureen Kelly of the Boston Region MPO will talk about how the agency's hazard mapping is being used to inform project evaluations. And finally Karl Peet from the Chicago Transit Authority will discuss how climate adaptation is being integrated into standard CTA business practices. At the end, we'll have a question-and-answer session where we'll open up the lines for questions. I also encourage everyone to type their questions into the chat pod here on the lower left of their screen and we'll read through those questions in the final Q&A as well. So with that, I'll turn it over to Rob to get us started.
Rob Hyman: Thank you, Gina. My name is Rob Hyman from the Federal Highway Sustainable Transport and Climate Change team. I'm just going to introduce some of the concepts in this webinar series before turning it over to the real presenters today. The purpose of this webinar series is to provide information to transportation agencies interested in assessing the vulnerability of infrastructure to climate change and extreme weather events and in applying the results. So understanding how climate change effects and extreme weather will affect your transportation network is a key first step for climate change planning. Federal Highway and the larger DOT have had a number of efforts underway to develop and test out methodologies for assessing vulnerability to climate change and extreme weather events. These include the first phase of the Gulf Coast study, which was completed in 2008 and is up on our website. And the second phase is focusing on Mobile, Alabama which is set to be completed next spring. We discussed parts of that study in the very first webinar on May 16. Similarly, Federal Highway has developed a framework for conducting vulnerability assessments for use by MPOs and state DOTs which Gina referred to. Federal Highway sponsored five pilot studies that were completed in 2011. FTA conducted a similar pilot program and, in fact, two of our presenters today represent pilots from that FTA program. As Becky Lupes and Rob Kafalenos from our team at Federal Highway noted in the first two webinars, Federal Highway's climate change and extreme weather vulnerability assessment framework was updated just last December. It largely draws from the work and experiences of the first round of the five pilot studies and also draws from the ongoing Gulf Coast study and other work.
The framework is two things. First, it's the suggested organizing mechanism for transportation agencies planning to conduct a climate change or extreme weather event vulnerability assessment. Second, it's a structure for us at Federal Highway to organize resources and lessons learned for reference and use by transportation agencies and others interested in any aspect of this work. Here on the screen you can see a graphic of the framework's process. Each box or circle on this diagram has corresponding information, examples and other resources that go with it. It's all contained in a 50-page document that is on our website. Eventually, we plan to have a section of our website devoted to the framework where you'll be able to click on the applicable part of the graphic to link directly to updated information and even more resources related to that section.
As Gina mentioned, the framework is composed of three main components, defining the scope, assessing vulnerability and integrating results into decision-making. In today's webinar we'll be talking about agencies' experiences with that final component with integrating results into the decision-making. This is really the implementation phase. This step is all about developing adaptation options and incorporating what you've learned from the vulnerability assessment into your programs and decision-making processes. I should also note that we recently started a second round of the Federal Highway pilot using the updated framework. This time there are 19 pilot projects and we are funding many that are focused on adaptation, that last step that we're going to talk about today, both from a programmatic standpoint and from the point of view of specific engineering options. I should also mention that while the first round the pilots was very heavily focused on the east and west coast, the second round includes inland areas as well as projects along the Great Lakes, as you can see in this map. When those pilots are completed in 2014 we're planning to assess the lessons learned by the agencies involved and then make another big update of the framework.
Last thing before we get started, I should mention that the tenth national conference on transportation asset management, which will be held in Miami in April 2014, is going to be including a special track on adaptation to climate change and extreme weather events. The purpose of that track is to help members of the asset management community consider the ramifications of climate change and extreme weather events and asset management planning. Abstracts for presentations are due at the end of July and a call for presentations is going to be going out soon. The call is going to ask for presentations focused on a variety of topics, including development of strategies, tools and techniques for estimating adaptation needs, and building adaptation into asset management planning. For more information about that particular conference you can go to the TRB website, TRB.org/conferences/assetmanagement2014.aspx. So it's pretty easy to remember except for the last dot-aspx. Also, we're going to have a link to that on our website in about a week or so when the whole thing goes live.
So now at last I would like to introduce our first speaker. Dr. Cris Liban is the Deputy Executive Officer of the Environmental Compliance Services of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority or Metro. The LAC MTA is a state chartered special jurisdiction that provides planning, construction, operations and funding, for all transportation and transit related projects within Los Angeles County. Cris oversees all of Metro's major environmental and sustainability related programs including environmental remediation and compliance, environmental management systems, policy development and implementation and energy and climate change and management. With that, Cris I will turn it over to you and I am very much looking forward to hearing your presentation.
Cris Liban: Thank you, Rob. Thank you so much to Gina and the rest of the FHWA team for inviting us to participate in today's webinar. I'd like to essentially start with an outline of what I'm going to talk about this morning. The first topic we want to talk about is essentially California and climate change drivers here in the state. Then, we'll move on to why climate issues are important to L.A. Metro and to the other jurisdictions within the area. Also, we'll talk about L.A. Metro's climate adaptation activities with a little bit of some information that I will provide you from our FTA pilot. Then, we can entertain any questions and discussion at some point immediately after the remarks and also later on during this presentation.
Here in California, there are a number of different drivers that we, as an organization, actually, are obligated to follow and fulfill in all of our activities. There's what we call the AB 32, the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act wherein we are required, in general, as a state to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels-- about a 20 percent reduction compared to business as usual--by 2020. By 2050, 30 years later, we're required to essentially reduce another 60 percent of those emissions down to about 20 percent of 1990 levels. There's also SB 375 wherein we are required to look at land used in transportation planning coordination as a means to address climate change. There are also amendments to our California Environmental Quality Act guidelines to look at the impacts of different projects that we do here in California with respect to climate change and greenhouse gas emissions issues. In 2009, the state put together climate adaptation strategies that a number of organizations like us have essentially piggybacked on, and have looked at different strategies that apply to our organization and have implemented some of those. For those we don't think are implementable, we have looked at them and have done additional studies to see if they can be implemented here in our agency. Then finally for those who are not familiar, California has a cap and trade program. It's now linked to the Quebec exchange. We've had three auctions in the last six months. In parallel to the California cap and trade program is what we call the low carbon fuel standards program wherein we're trying to reduce the carbon intensity of different fuels that we use here in the state as another strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As part of the program, for those guideways that are electrified, their carbon credits are produced or I should say not yet produced but are being considered to be produced. When the State of California Resources Board completes the study, then those electrified guideways at some point in time in the future will be able to participate as part of the low carbon fuel standards program as well.
I just wanted to point out in this particular slide a graphic of how we're actually trying to achieve our greenhouse gas emissions. This is just a representation of what I mentioned earlier. On the left side of your screen, is a representation of how much greenhouse gas emissions we had back in 1990. The projected greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 is to your right. And sometime around seven years from now our goal is to reduce those greenhouse gas emissions by 80 metric tons of CO2 equivalent [to match 1990 emissions]. By 2050, we hope to have a final CO2 goal achieved of about 80 metric tons CO2 equivalent [80% below 1990 levels].
As a brief introduction on our organization, LA CMTA is the L.A. County's regional transit planner, system builder, and operator. I did not put it in here but we also provide funding to various cities and special jurisdictions here in Los Angeles County. We provide funding for all transportation and transit projects as well as operations of those different projects. We're a large organization. We cover about 1,400 square miles, about 37 square kilometers. We're multi modal. We have heavy and light rail systems. We have our bus system here as well which is the backbone of our transit system. Also, we have an 18 mile bus rapid transit in the San Fernando Valley which is called the Orange Line and it has been very successful the last few years. Over a million daily bus boardings and approximately 300,000 daily rail boardings are being experienced through MTA. I just wanted to mention to you our existing system. We have about 103 systems in our rail system, about 121 miles of light and heavy rail. By 2030 because of the generosity of the taxpayers of Los Angeles County, we're going to double, at least, the number of stations, and the number of miles that we'll actually have for the county. This particular slide shows what the expanded system would look like in 30 years.
Why are climate and climate issues important to L.A. Metro? There are service disruptions that we're observing right now in periods of extreme heat and heavy precipitation. Also as mentioned earlier, we're going to expand our system almost 100 percent in the next 30 years. Because of that climate, climate issues, and solutions to those issues really would guide us, not only in identifying the portions of transit system and a particular service that are most vulnerable, but also help us guide the planning and operations of that system. At the same time, climate issues and climate solutions would also guide us in identifying the solutions to the impacts that we can incorporate into our decisions about mode selection, siting alternatives, materials that we can use in expansion, as well as in the operational and maintenance changes.
The goal of the adaptation plan is very simple. We know the climate related risks, but we need to understand three things. We need to understand the magnitude and nature of those risks. We need to understand the planning and operational options for reducing that risk, and we need to understand the relative cost and benefits of those options. Over the past few years, we have been doing a lot of activities related to identifying these issues and solving these issues. We have completed a climate action and adaptation plan. Essentially in that context, as far as our operations are concerned, extreme heat and heavy rain fall events have been the fundamental issues that we have seen. You can see here in the chart some of the consequences of extreme heat and rainfall events. As far as new construction is concerned, it's the same particular issue. What you see here in front of you are related consequences of those climate impacts.
Adaptation options are variable and what I have put in here are just some of the overarching options that we have identified through a climate action and adaptation planning. What we have seen here is that we needed to combine weather and climate information with our infrastructure monitoring and maintenance. We need to essentially explore the use of more heat resistant materials in our operations and construction. We need to improve the flood defense at sensitive locations like underground stations. Also, I have provided here in this slide some of the examples that we have considered or implemented in a number of our current infrastructure. We also have identified several options that we can do during construction that include site selection, alignment alternatives, as well as changes in labor schedules to prevent, for example, heat strokes in extreme heat events. Other adaptation considerations that we have looked at in past years include the estimate of the costs of the adaptive actions or lack of action. And most importantly, how do we actually integrate these things into management and planning. There are number of best practices that are all ready out there that we can consider, and we can actually readily implement in other locations within the organization that have not yet heard of those best practices. Finally, how can these be iterative? How can we monitor? How can we learn from these? How can we update and adjust these different strategies for operations and planning?
What have we incorporated in our activities? Essentially, in the past six months we have completed a number of different policies and also different plans to guide our planning and management of projects. We also made some changes in our procurement requirements to include the consideration for a climate planning and climate change solutions to our issues. Specifically on our design criteria we have revamped our design criteria in our environmental considerations to include climate change and climate adaptation strategies. We also specified in some of our projects that are currently being procured to develop, for example, a sustainability plan so that that project will actually consider climate and extreme weather event issues. We are very active in what we call readiness reviews. These are internal processes here at the organization, wherein we, from the get go, actually get involved in the conversation of the project with respect to not only lifecycle costs, but also how do we actually adapt the project to potential extreme weather events of the future. We have identified through environmental clearance the mitigation measures and have actively implemented those during construction in the past at least year.
With respect to maintenance and operations what we have found out is that we have quite a few of our divisions or bus yards or rail yards that all ready have operational best practices to adapt the rail cars or the busses in extreme weather events. What we have done in the past year of the FTA climate adaptation pilot specifically, is to essentially promote those best practices in other divisions through the agency-wide environmental management system. We also have used the environmental management system as a tool, not only to compile all of the organizations' environmental best practices, but also to use what we call the plan-do-check-act mechanism to address climate related issues. We are in the process of expanding what we call our M3 system, that's our asset management system, to include a check off for any potential climate related issues associated with say the maintenance of a particular facility or maintenance of a particular asset here in the organization. We are putting together our GIS maps for the whole organization to somehow understand not only where the impacted areas are, but also try to understand any patterns that may exist in any of these issues. And then we have also put together the metrics for us to essentially understand how we're doing as far as these maintenance and operations options are concerned. And we're currently implementing those metrics to measure either successes or challenges in those operations. And then finally, we are also reaching out to the different organizations here in the basin for us to understand where they are in climate adaptation solutions and for us to hopefully learn from them and for them to learn from us in our different experiences.
Just looking forward, a final slide, essentially we have expanded our current work to actually look at fixed asset vulnerabilities, as well. In climate action planning, what we have focused on is essentially the service, as well as station vulnerabilities. And so in that context, we now understand how we can make the system run in the event of any extreme weather event or any potential future climate impacts. But at the same time, now that we have understood that, we're looking back at our fixed assets, as well to help us understand specifically where we can strengthen existing assets to make them more adaptable to future issues.
I already mentioned, the expansion of our GIS based tools. We are including climate criteria into asset management prioritization at this point. We also have a study that we're about to start on the impacts of these issues to vulnerable populations. We are expanding our training and outreach program not only here in the organization but also in those outreach efforts that we have started to different organizations that we provide funding to. We have actively participated in the carbon market, not only to assist in essentially strengthening that market, but also helping us understand what kinds of financial mechanisms we can get out of the carbon market to further finance a number of our activities. Tthis slide provides my contact information on the left side. On the right side, it provides you with the website to my group and two other pieces of information. One is a hotline where we receive information and comments from folks and then if you'd rather send us an email you could send us an email through that email address in the bottom. With that I conclude my remarks and am open to questions. Thank you.
Rob Hyman: Thank you, Cris. Actually, we're going to be holding questions until the end. We're going to move to our next speaker now Maureen Kelly. Maureen is a transportation planner with the Central Transportation Planning Staff which serves as the staff to the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization. Her work includes incorporating all hazards planning into the MPO planning processes. And with that, Maureen, take it away.
Maureen Kelly: Thank you, Rob for the introduction and for the invitation to be here. Good afternoon everyone, today I'm going to be giving a brief overview of the work that the Boston Region MPO has been doing to incorporate all-hazard planning into its transportation planning process. For those not familiar with our area, our area covers Boston and 100 communities surrounding it; about a quarter of those communities are in coastal areas. The MPO sees its role in all hazards planning to include programming federal dollars for projects that improve the transportation system in ways that make it more resilient in times of severe weather and that can help facilitate emergency response actions and evacuations. Several years ago we began a mapping project to identify parts of the transportation system that could be vulnerable to natural hazards and to provide information that could be used from the MPO in evaluating projects that are vying for federal funding. In so doing we looked at other agencies that are involved in hazard mitigation planning work and emergency preparedness for resources to tap into to better make those programming decisions. That project developed into a GIS-based web application, which we use now as a tool when we're evaluating proposed projects. This app allows us to view a map of the region, to zoom into the city and town level, see the roadway and rail networks and certain infrastructure in the region and determine how they're related to natural hazard zones, including those for rainfall events, hurricanes and sea level rise. First I'll give a brief description of the data that we have and then talk about how we use it for evaluating projects.
The natural hazard layers include flood data from FEMA showing areas at risk for flooding during 100-year and 500-year storms. The image on this slide is the snapshot from the app showing flood zones in light blue and pink. Another layer is depicting hurricane storm surge zones. These are from NOAA's SLOSH model and it was made available to us by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. The layer for sea level rise was created in house by our GIS department using topographic data from MassGIS which is the GIS resource in our state. This layer is giving a ballpark idea of where sea level rise could be affecting our coast over the next century. However, it does not account for changes that may occur to the coast line in the future due to erosion or accretion or land subsidence. To create these maps we relied on scenarios included in the IPCC's 2007 assessment which projects the global average sea level rise of about a half foot to two feet by the end of this century. We also incorporated a higher end estimate that factored in the potential for accelerated rates of ice melt as warming continues. These maps highlight land and increments of about one-and-a-half feet or a half meter up to six-and-a-half feet or two meters in elevation above sea level. The low end of that range is probably on the conservative side for Boston given that the sea level in the harbor has all ready risen nearly a foot over the past century. So going forward, I expect we'll be updating this layer when the next IPCC assessment is released and work in information from studies that may shed light on the relative sea level rise for Boston Harbor and the Massachusetts Coast.
In addition to the natural data, we have various infrastructure data, as well. Each year our GIS group creates a GIS layer showing the location of transportation projects that are candidates for funding through the transportation improvement program or TIP which is the MPO four-year funding plan. There are also layers for critical infrastructure including those you see on this slide. They include hospitals, shelters, police and fire stations, transportation and emergency operation centers, evacuation routes, bridges, with an indication of the condition of the bridge, and dams. We're also working on adding data on traffic signals. So here, we're marrying state and municipal data. For example, the emergency routing information is a combination of data provided by Mass DOT, city of Boston and other municipal forces. Some of the other data came from pre-disaster mitigation plans that our regional planning agency and MAPC developed with cities and towns in the region.
We're using this app now as a visual aid when we conduct our annual evaluations of roadway projects that are candidates to receive federal funding through the TIP. The MPO does not design projects, but it does screen projects that have been going through the Mass DOT design process in order to prioritize them for federal funding. The MPO has a number of screening criteria that it uses to evaluate each candidate project in terms of what it will do to preserve the existing transportation system, improve livability, mobility and air quality, promote environmental justice, and improve safety and security. So during each annual TIP cycle the MPO staff reviews all of the projects under consideration based on these factors and gives each a numeric score under each of their criteria. This application is helping us answer questions in the security area. Given the large number of projects in the Boston region, this tool has been useful in that it allows us to generate a report that tells us what portion of a proposed project lies within a natural hazard zone, or what its proximity is to certain critical infrastructure or emergency routes. This is helpful in terms of being able to quickly identify those projects that need a closer look. In conjunction with this, we read the functional design reports (FDR) of each project. In the MPO routine, they request that project proponents provide a copy of their FDR when requesting federal funding. So specifically, we're looking to see if a project has design features that will improve the ability of the roadway to address its function in extreme weather. For example, does it fixes an identified drainage or flooding problem that will enable the roadway to remain open during a storm perhaps by enlarging culverts or upgrading the storm water system? We're also looking at whether the roadway that the project is addressing can provide redundancy in a vulnerable area. Perhaps the roadway itself is not in a hazard zone but it would provide passage around a flood prone area or it could be considered as a secondary evacuation route if a primary evacuation route is washed out. We're also looking to see whether the project would have benefits for emergency response and evacuations. For example, ITS improvements, like signal preemption or traffic signal upgrades, that allow centralized control from a traffic operation center especially on an evacuation route or routes that lead out of storm surge zones. Of course, we're paying extra attention to projects that address key links in the system, important intersections, bridges, or slow points.
Here is one example of a project that we evaluated. This is the project to reconstruct a portion of Trapelo Road in Belmont which is a town just west of Boston. This project is currently being funded through our TIP. This slide may be a little bit difficult to see but I'll try to point out some of the features on the map. You'll see a lake in the center of the map which is Fresh Pond. The area in pink around it indicates a flood plain. Just below it and to the left is a dark red line that marks the portion of Trapelo Road that I'll be talking about. Some of the other features on this map include Boston's evacuation routes in yellow at the lower right hand corner, bridges which are marked by their condition as weight restricted, structurally deficient, or functionally obsolete hospitals and police and fire stations, as well. On the bottom of the screen you'll see some text from our databases giving a description of the project and indicating what critical infrastructure is in the project area. In this case, Mount Auburn Hospital is close by. This project was flagged because a small portion on the western end is in a 100-year flood zone around the brook. That area is indicated on the map as the light blue area on the left hand side. There's a failing culvert at that location. The FDR documented that the road had flooded in the past and the traffic had been disrupted due to flooding.
In reviewing the project, we considered the importance of maintaining mobility on that roadway in light of the larger flood zones around Fresh Pond. There is a main route called Fresh Pond Parkway that skirts the east side of the pond through those flood zones. The Parkway is a heavily used roadway that provides access to Route 2, which takes traffic out to Interstate 95. It would be very important in the event that there was an evacuation from the city. As you might be able to see, one of those Boston evacuation routes feeds into Fresh Pond Parkway. If that route was impassable due to flooding, Trapelo Road would provide an alternate route toward I-95. Addressing the flood issue on Trapelo Road is important, as this could serve as a secondary evacuation route. Both roads were also providing direct access to the hospital. So again, redundancy would be important in this area. This project will be upgrading the culvert at the brook so that the roadway can remain open at least in the 50-year flood event. It will also be upgrading traffic signals to provide emergency vehicle preemption. In the evaluation process, this project was awarded points in the security area. I should also mention that the public and project proponents have the opportunity to review and question these project ratings during the time period when the TIP is under development and during the public review period.
That concludes my presentation and please feel free to contact me. My contact information is on the screen, and I will turn it back over to our moderator.
Rob Hyman: Thank you, Maureen. Our last presentation, but certainly not least, for today is from Karl Peet. Karl is the project manager in the Department of Strategic Planning and Policy of the Chicago Transit Authority. Carl has responsibilities in climate change policies, BRT planning implementation, multi modal integration and long term bus fleet planning. Karl is a member of the CTA sustainability committee, a contributor to the Chicago Climate Action Plan and Sustainable Chicago 2015 plan and a participant in the APTA Sustainability Working Group. Okay, Karl.
Karl Peet: All right. Thank you very much Rob and Gina for organizing and to everyone out there for listening. So as stated here in dark red letters in the middle of the slide, what I'm about to share with you are some preliminary results from CTA's FTA-sponsored climate adaptation pilots. We are looking at ways to make our systems, our operations, our infrastructure and our ridership more resilient to observed and projected impacts of climate change. Starting with just a little bit of background, a little bit of context for CTA's efforts within the city of Chicago's ongoing efforts to increase resilience and plan for adaptation strategies, we're working within a framework of two different climate action plans. The first of these is the Chicago Climate Action Plan known as CCAP. This has a very long time horizon as you see out to 2050. We're looking at a number of mitigation strategies, as well as adaptation as kind of the stopper in this whole effort in a city wide manner. We're also engaging with the more short-term focused Sustainable Chicago 2015 action agenda. As you see in the text below, we're looking to prepare our system both to human impacts and to make our infrastructure more resilient, as well. So along with Cris and LA Metro, we are one of seven pilots that Rob mentioned in the beginning. You'll see that Chicago-- excuse me, I should say one of seven FTA-sponsored climate adaptation pilots. We've just submitted a draft final report, which we'll be revising in the months ahead. We look forward to having more results to share as the year wears on. Notably on this map, you see CTA is kind of doing its own thing here in the middle of the country. We are not facing sea level rise like our west coast peers. We're not being hit with the direct impact of tropical storms, as with our peers in the southeast, but we do experience very hot and humid conditions in the summer, extreme cold in the winter, and lots of temperature swings. We look forward to sharing these results with our peers in general, but especially with some of our inland peers who are facing some of the same impacts that we face on a daily basis.
Giving an overview of CTA's adaption pilot, our project is broken into three different tasks. The first of these is a broad survey of system vulnerabilities. Going back to an earlier stage of the FHWA webinar series, task one is really designed to set us up for the next couple of tasks, the second task being looking at implementation strategies, which I'll describe in greater depth here, but looking at three particular project areas where we can conduct a life cycle cost analysis, and get into some detail. Task three, on the other hand, is looking for ways to incorporate climate adaptation into our long term standard business practices and for ways to integrate these considerations into our day-to-day business as we move forward, and as we see perhaps increasing effects of climate change.
This slide is just an example of the type of analysis that we've done in task one. We covered a lot of areas. I'll cover just one of them here. This particular case is looking at the urban heat island effects. The map in the upper right of the slide shows the CTA bus and rail system juxtaposed with city provided urban heat island maps. Of course, where there's more industrialization we're going to have higher impacts due to heat islands, and the punch line among all of these numbers is that a 90-degree day is going to affect all parts of our infrastructure potentially very differently. So, we want to try to correlate vulnerabilities in various parts of our system with, again, internal data sets and external data sets, and look for ways to target these and adapt in a wise way with our very limited resources. This is a bridge between task one and tasks two and three just to kind of a recap of what we have done with task one, of course, to engage our experts across our organization, across the city, to do the type of analysis I've described in the previous slide. We created a risk matrix to get a sense of the severity and frequency of various climate effects, and how they might impact CTA operations. From there, we were able to define some selection criteria to narrow down a set of potential topics. Finally, returning to our experts, we've refined topics two and three, which I will describe in the coming slides.
This slide gives an overview of our methodology within task two. As previously mentioned, we have put together a lifecycle cost analysis template. I know that you may need to squint just a little bit to see these numbers. First, we'll be applying this to three different areas. The first is a flooding of the rail right of way. Second is rail buckling or when, of course, steel rails get very hot and expand, then they are prone to buckle. Finally, we are looking at failures of signal houses that govern the activity of trains throughout our system. For lifecycle cost, the greatest sensitivity is really looking at the frequency of different weather events. These are based on the climate models that we have, the global climate models, which have been downscaled to the Chicago region. The punch line of this whole template is in the yellow cells at the top right of the screen, these are 2050 NPVs. So a net present value is the lifecycle cost and benefit over time. What we're really looking for is for that number to be positive. Of course, it will change depending on our assumptions of how frequent each of these severe weather events will take place. I will illustrate the sensitivity analysis from slide to slide as we move into a few different specific examples.
First as mentioned, number one is looking at increased flooding in our system. We are specifically focused on flooding in the subway portals, where the subway tunnels come up to meet the sky, and ventilation shafts that allow us to breathe while we're riding those trains through the tunnels. In each case, we're comparing a no build option, a baseline condition based on our climate projections, against a couple of build options, in this case to install drainage systems, to capture and retain water at the portal entrances, and also to keep water from inundating our ventilation shafts. Turning back to the lifecycle model templates in each of the following slides I'm going to show, at the top you'll see a base, condition based on our different frequencies of severe weather events, both at the baseline level and higher frequencies. I'll compare that against a couple of sensitivity analyses if we change some of the other variables to see how that might affect eventual outcomes. First at the base line assumption for severe weather frequencies we actually find a negative net present value, which increases to strongly positive as we get into higher event frequencies. Although the climate models predict the baseline 0.4 events per year, what we've observed in the last decade or so is something that much more approaches the higher frequency, basically a severe weather flooding event every eight years or less; that may be a more suitable range to look towards. Also, very briefly, we can tweak a few variables. We can take out what's known as the passenger value of time, the sort of penalty each of us would experience if we were riding the train or the bus, and we had, in this case, a disruption, such as a flooding event, this is the cost that would be incurred collectively. If we take that out, then we have lower benefits of the projects. We would argue that this is a critical part of our core mission. So it's something that should really be included as part of our analysis. Finally, shown on the bottom on this slide, if construction costs were to double beyond our best estimates, we find even at the highest frequency we would still come out ahead. When it gets to actually looking at this in the implementation stage, we need to be very careful and to make sure that a number of stakeholders are on board with our assumptions and our final outputs.
Now, I will move ahead into the second of the task two areas: rail buckling. In this case, we focused on a particular section of track. This is the Orange Line that runs from downtown Chicago out to Midway Airport, as you may be familiar. This track's been in service for about 20 years, and has been subject to various issues, so we're looking at two build options. The first is to improve the existing structure. This is a ballasted track, wooden ties, and steel rails, and we want to improve that system. The second option is to increase the whole overpass with a concrete track bed. So a couple of different model runs are needed. We can take the base condition with the ballasted track. Again, we see positive returns at every frequency of severe weather events that we would anticipate. If it gets a little bit technical--we have slow zones. If the slow zone repair [time is] actually cut in half compared to what we see currently we see a drop in benefits which is the middle slice here. If we drop to the bottom, looking at reduced construction cost, this more has to do with choosing instead of the deluxe improvements, maybe we don't adjust the drainage, just the ballast something like that. We can find a more cost effective way to make those improvements. Again, we see greater returns over the life of the project. Very briefly, we can also compare the ballasted construction versus the concrete track bed. In this case, improving the existing track looks more favorable in the sense that there's a lower upfront construction cost or capital investment. But if we were to take the horizon out past 2050, we might actually see a favorable rating for the concrete track bed because it has a lower annual maintenance cost incurred. So, again, we can shift all of those different variables and we'll get different results, as we expected.
The third area we looked at was the rail signal failures and again where the rail signal system is housed. It's a very sophisticated set of microprocessors that must be kept at a constant temperature to avoid failure. Failures exist due to deferred maintenance. Of course, extreme heat will set it off as will potential failures within the regional electric grid. So in this topic, the proposed build options are two. The first is to replace existing air conditioning units to make them more robust, more resilient. The second is to provide a backup power system for these units too to be able to counteract potential failures to the regional grid. I'll just go through a couple of quick model runs here. The first of these is looking at baseline events. Generally speaking, we've seen slow zones being able to fix the signal failure systems within about a quarter of a day, call that six hours. That's a little bit optimistic. This may not always be the case. Sometimes we need parts in order to make these repairs. So if you look at the base case, the returns are, by and large, negative except at the higher frequencies. But if we have a potentially more realistic assumption in our ability to resolve these slow zones, as you see in the lower set of figures, the returns are overwhelmingly positive. One more view is just looking at lower and higher capital costs. Some of the fixes for the signal houses require more basic fixes of just one a single back up air conditioning unit installed, so that if the primary unit fails there will be auxiliary power that will kick in. That's the lower capital costs, which is in the middle of set of figures. A more deluxe fix is to install a dual set of air conditioning units and to plug this into the traction power unit which powers the rail cars themselves, as an auxiliary backup. As you see at a higher cost, the net present value is overwhelmingly negative. But what's important here is to look at the signal houses on a case-by-case basis. Some of them are more prone to failure. With some there are different technologies, different generations. Of course, the goal, would be to have a net positive outcome based on the various improvements that would be made. Coming into the home stretch here, I know this a lot of numbers to throw at you all at once, but in the interest of the results, we want get them out there for reaction and for refinement.
As mentioned, this is the third of three tasks bringing climate adaptation into our standard practices and I'll talk about two different areas within task three. The first of these is looking at our asset management system, looking at how we track the useful life of the assets throughout our system. CTA is currently part of an ongoing process to improve and expand the asset management system, also funded by FTA. Climate adaptation is really just one of many variables to consider. Since we're coordinated with another project that's coming into shape, and we are going to keep this at the framework level. We're looking at two different approaches by which we can incorporate climate change into our asset management system. The first of these is a top down approach starting with the climate impacts and working downwards. So a quick example, we can look at intense precipitation. It's really all about either too much heat or too much water, generally speaking. We can get a sense of how intense storms can affect our rolling stock, our busses and trains, the particular assets affected. We can start to assess the severity of these impacts, the likely frequency, how they're affecting customers. From this, we can define a function to assess our overall vulnerability to a particular climate impact.
In the next slide we're taking the opposite approach, a bottom up approach starting instead with the asset itself and looking at how it's defining a relative level of vulnerability from one asset to the next. So importantly here, we are looking to apply a framework that has been defined by the IPCC, has been applied by FHWA, which is to assess vulnerability of our assets relative to three different factors: exposure to the weather condition, sensitivity of the particular asset or material, and the adaptive capacity, what we're actually able to do about it once we can assess its vulnerability. Again, I think the print is quite small here, but essentially what we're looking to do is to define a climate vulnerability flag for any given assets. At this point, it's a binary flag. Is it vulnerable, is it not? Without getting into all of the details here, I will say that we're working towards a more qualitative view of this if we could do a one to five scale in terms of vulnerability, so that we can sort our assets and prioritize them relative to vulnerability in this respect. With more and more data and more data sets, we can potentially turn that into a quantitative figure.
The final piece of task two is looking at our operational and financial impacts due to climate change. I will wind down here as my time is running short, but what we're looking to do is putt together a framework to allow us to correlate operational financial impacts due to severe weather. I will illustrate with two different data sets. The first is comparing the failures of our heating ventilation and air conditioning systems on our busses against temperature. You can see from the chart in the upper right that as temperatures rise our failures increase, as well, and there's a fairly significant correlation based on this curve. It's fairly intuitive that our AC systems would break down more as the temperature increases. But what this allows us to do is to actually quantify that relationship and, more importantly, to be able to match our labor requirements, our material requirements, and our budgetary requirements to anticipate for these effects. It enables us as we look at climate models in future years to anticipate future impacts. In the lower right, we are looking at temperature as relative to diesel fuel consumption, and you can see from this curve at lower temperatures, the low end of the range and the high end of the range, consumption of diesel fuel increases so that we can keep our customers comfortable in those extreme conditions. What I think is important here is to get a sense of the net impacts. Obviously, if we have milder days in the winter we'll use less fuel. If we have hotter days in the summer we'll use more fuel. What's the net impact going to be? That's the kind of question that we'd like to be able to answer with this framework.
This brings me to the final slide of the presentation, which is part two of the previous slide. We'd like to be able to take these kinds of slices-in-time snapshot assessments or correlations and to be able to project these outward into the future. Essentially, that's what's being done with this part of the model. As you see on the left column, there are different time scales going out from decade to decade. Based on the observed disruptions and the climate projection information that we have, we can get a sense of what we might anticipate in the future and how we can be better prepared in terms of our labor and our budgets. So with that I will wind it down. Again, these are preliminary results, really just in in the last couple of weeks. In terms of implementation, we're sort of at a pre-implementation phase, but we want to be poised to make the arguments to do the math before we jump into any particular adaptation strategy. We look forward to refining and applying these in the months ahead. Thank you for your attention and I would welcome your questions.
Question & Answer Session
Gina Filosa: Great. Thanks. We can start looking at the questions in the chat pod. So the first one we have is for Cris. Can you give some examples of the key metrics that you're tracking? And that was in reference-- can I go back to that slide?
Cris Liban: Probably for me, Gina.
Gina Filosa: Yes. You said you were developing maintenance and operations metrics.
Cris Liban: Yes, it's actually been developed and it's within the report that we have submitted to the FTA. But just a very brief background of what that is. We looked at other industries, other than transportation that are more advanced, like agriculture as well as the insurance industry and have identified 109 different metrics that may be applicable for transit and transportation, in general. Of those 109 metrics, we looked at the top 20 metrics based on a scoring system. From the top 20, we selected 7 or so metrics. Some of these metrics are yes/no types of questions, but depending on your answer, whether it's a yes or a no it prompts you to actually either do more than what you're doing or essentially stop doing what you're doing. Some of the examples of these include, has a vulnerability assessment been conducted? Have adaptation actions been prioritized, have vulnerable assets been mapped with transit dependent and local income populations? Number of injuries and medical emergencies that workers and riders spent based on temperature and rainfall occurrences. Does the agency have overheating standards for public transport facilities and rolling stock? Capacity to monitor weather and temperature conditions in real time at key location service areas. The final top seven metric that we have selected is extreme weather impacts on service delays and cancellations.
Gina Filosa: Great. Thanks so another question for you, are there any specific plans for greener storm water management or using green infrastructure to provide flood protection or mitigation?
Cris Liban: We actually have those already implemented. I would like to direct everybody to our website one more time: Metro.net/ecsd. I have it open in front of me, and what you would see there on the right side of that website are drop down menus and one of them is particularly about our plans and policies. In that menu of plans and policies are commitments of the MTA specifically, for example, having a lead commitment on any infrastructure that's built at 10,000 square feet or larger. To directly answer the question, an example of green infrastructure or greener storm water management is our metro orange line, wherein we not only had implemented low impact development but also we had development strategies as you say, but we also had implemented a number of storm water strategies that are not normally seen in other locations here in Los Angeles. So more than happy to provide additional information on those, but in the interest of time you can start with the website and then please send me any specific questions related to, for example, the orange line project.
Gina Filosa: Thanks. I should mention that on the screen now and in the file share pod, we do have the Federal Highway pilot project reports. I apologize I did not add the FTA ones but I can find the link to those and the MTA website and provide it as well. So the next question is for Maureen, is the functional design report you talked about, is that completed before or during the NEPA and project development phase.
Maureen Kelly: I believe NEPA begins first. The FDR is completed at the 25 percent design phase.
Gina Filosa: Okay. And another question for you, how does Boston determine what is a critical link in the system? Have you established your own criteria? And do you rank/rate facilities based on criticality?
Maureen Kelly: We don't actually rank based on criticality. We take each project as it comes, but we do prioritize based on the functional class of the roadway. We look at traffic volumes, and again, if a town is designated an evacuation route we give priority to that. Also critical infrastructure comes into the mix as well. We also tie into pre-disaster mitigation plans. At the community level, information is being collected about critical assets in those plans. That gives us an indication, as well. Finally, we just use professional judgment, if that answers the question.
Gina Filosa: Okay. Thanks. The next question is for Karl, what value of time does CTA use for passengers in estimating NPV for implementing strategies?
Karl Peet: Okay. We looked at US DOT guidance. Our consulting team proposed doing sort of a blended rate of both value of time for both recreational and for business purposes. So long story short, I think we're in the range of $12 which is just a simple average between the two. But, again, as mentioned, within the scope of a sensitivity analysis we can simply, of course, change that assumption or try to get a sense of maybe a ratio between various uses on our system and we could refine that further.
Gina Filosa: Okay. Another question for you: what asset management system is being used?
Karl Peet: Traditionally we've used the in four asset management system, though asset management is not an area I participate in day-to-day. So I can certainly get back to you if you have more specific questions. I can get with our infrastructure folks to give you more specific answers. Having said that, as I mentioned, there's the parallel ongoing project to refine this framework and to define a new system, kind of a new generation of our asset management system and that's not something that I've had access to at this point, but I hope to be able to see that soon when it's resolved and certainly have more to say about that at that point as well.
Gina Filosa: Okay. Another question for you: How does the CTA determine sensitivity?
Karl Peet: I think the best answer to this question is when we talk about sensitivity what I'm really saying is which variables are more sensitive to changing assumptions? Does the sensitivity rest with the frequency of extreme weather events? Does it have to do with the capital cost assumptions? Because, of course, all of these are subject to change and when we put all of these various variables into the lifecycle cost model we want to get a range of outputs based on our inputs. I guess what I would say is the way I'm defining sensitivity for the purposes of this presentation is really to say which of those variables is going to have the largest impact on the output of the model.
Gina Filosa: Okay. Let's see who asked that question, Jill. I'm not sure if she's refereeing to sensitivity in the vulnerable asset assessment. So in that slide where you have exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity it ranks sensitivity low.
Karl Peet: Sure. Okay. Forgive me, I think I'm looking at the chat and perhaps I misread that. So thanks for clarifying, Gina. In this case sensitivity, would maybe best illustrated with an example. Let's take rail platforms, one platform is made of wood, one is made of concrete. So even if they have the same general exposure, perhaps they're in the same type of context there. They're both in an urban heat island and they get the same amount of sunlight in a day, something like that. You know, presumably one material versus another may have more sensitivity., Presumably a wood platform is going to be somewhat more sensitive over time to precipitation and extreme heat and sunlight, of course depending on the construction, how it's treated and all of that. So I think that's kind of what we're getting at. Obviously, it could be not only materials but types of construction. It could be-- obviously a subway is going to be less exposed than an elevated track structure but it may also have a different degree of sensitivity due to extreme weather.
Gina Filosa: Okay. Thanks. The next couple are, again, for Maureen in Boston. Are you giving high priorities to locations that flood at a drop of the hat?
Maureen Kelly: No. The application I was talking about we have FEMA flood zones so we're taking into consideration natural flood zones. As far as areas that flood because there's a drainage problem or an issue on the coast where it's the high tide and drainage becomes an issue, we factor that in if we know about it. You know, if it's documented in the FDR; if it's, again, documented in a pre-disaster mitigation plan we could see that information. So if we know about the problem we would give it priority.
Gina Filosa: Okay. And then another question on how the inundation areas modeled for the various IPCC sea level rise scenarios did you use hydraulic connectivity or was a bathtub approach used?
Maureen Kelly: A bathtub approach was used.
Gina Filosa: And so this one's for Karl, CTA, the NPV estimates are very helpful. You mentioned though that the upfront capital costs can be a barrier. What were the estimates of the capital cost for the strategies you analyzed?
Karl Peet: Okay. I know it's serious when I'm being interrogated by the host. I'm sitting up straight in my chair. Rob, thanks for your question. For capital costs, let me look to the rail buckling. Of course, I hesitate to get too explicit because as mentioned, these are all preliminary results to be refined over the course of upcoming months,but having said that, we're looking on the order of-- I mean they're not greatly different. I want to make sure I get this right, so I'm going to quickly consult that document. While I am consulting it, I'm going to say I think it's on the order of about 11 million for the concrete track bed replacing that particular section of track. Of course, it's just a discrete section of track versus I think about nine million for the kind of deluxe improvements to the existing ballasted track bed. So right it's not greatly differently. Yeah, I think that's right. So about eleven and a quarter for the concrete track bed, just over nine for the improvements. Again, those improvements could come at different scales. And again, these are just initial best guess estimates but we just want to get a sense, of course, of orders of magnitude comparisons. As I mentioned once again, some of those up front capital costs will be tempered by the ongoing required maintenance costs for the ballasted track bed.
Gina Filosa: Great. Thanks. So there's a question on what FDR stands for again. That's the functional design reports. And there's another question on the availability of presentations. We will be posting the presentation materials along with the recordings of each of the webinars in the series on the Federal Highway's website soon. So check back to that site to find them. In the web link blocks here, there's a link to that website. Are there any questions over the phone line?
Operator: We have no phone questions.
Gina Filosa: Okay. Well, that looks like all of the questions so far. So if anyone has additional questions, please type them in now. And Rob, do you have any closing remarks for the group?
Rob Hyman: I just wanted to thank everybody for joining today. Our next webinar will be-- hang on, I'm getting out the information. Maybe Gina you were about to say this anyway.
Gina Filosa: Yes, it's next Thursday on the 20th at 2:00 P.M. Eastern. That session is currently at capacity but I do expect slots to open up. So you can email me directly and I will type in my email here in the chat pod. So email me directly if you want to get on the wait list. Again, I'm pretty confident spots open up, so I can send you the information to access that if you haven't been able to sign up. Hopefully by the end of next week ,we'll have the materials from the first two sessions online and then this one shortly after.
Rob Hyman: Great. And I just wanted to say thank you very much to all of our presenters for giving such great presentations today. And we look forward to virtually seeing many of you at the next webinar.
Gina Filosa: Great. Thanks everyone.