On December 8, 2009, representatives of seven state Departments of Transportation (DOTs) and nine Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Division Offices met in Schaumburg, Illinois to discuss climate change adaptation approaches with staff from FHWA Headquarters and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). The goals of the meeting were two-fold:
The one-day peer exchange began with a review of FHWA, AASHTO, and state activities related to climate change and climate change adaptation, in particular. In general, states expressed an interest in having access to some of the information products and resources that FHWA and AASHTO described during their introductory comments. When states reported to the group on their climate change activities, the following themes emerged:
Later in the day, the conversation focused on barriers to adaptation efforts. Common barriers cited by participants included information gaps, knowledge gaps, and a lack of coordination. Specific information gaps cited by states included better mapping and modeling with standardized scenarios and information about funding opportunities that would facilitate adaptation planning or adaptive designs. States cited several knowledge gaps, including a lack of understanding by stakeholders (e.g., state legislature, environmental permitting agencies, developers), public understanding of the issue, and the linkages between existing efforts and adaptation strategies. Coordination with federal and state environmental agencies responsible for developing state climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies is a significant barrier, as is coordination with other relevant state agencies whose input will be critical in implementing adaptation approaches.
Through the course of the discussion, participants identified several actions states could take to further adaptation efforts on climate change and transportation; two key actions include:
When asked how FHWA and/or AASHTO might be able to facilitate adaptation in states, participants noted the following needs:
Participants in the peer exchange were genuinely interested in the dialogue and grateful for their inclusion in this discussion with FHWA and AASHTO.