Congress charged the Secretary of Transportation and, by extension, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the FHWA to "take the appropriate actions to preserve the Interstate System to meet the needs of the 21st Century."* As the agency within the USDOT responsible for ensuring the continued integrity of the nation's highway network, the FHWA has the duty to provide national leadership in assuring that state and local transportation agencies adapt current and existing transportation infrastructure to the impacts of climate change. FHWA is also charged with ensuring that the plans and specifications for proposed highway projects provide for facilities that will "adequately serve the existing and planned future traffic of the highway in a manner that is conducive to safety, durability, and economy of maintenance."**
In addition to the statutory responsibility, preserving the Nation's highways through the promotion and utilization of best practices that are derived from experience and knowledge regarding climate change adaptation is a common sense approach. FHWA will continue a series of peer exchanges on climate change adaptation and mitigation in FY 2010 and 2011.
This report will be posted on the FHWA website and shared with participants and practitioners. FHWA may also schedule a webinar to discuss the findings of this peer exchange in 2010. In addition, the information shared in this 2009 peer exchange will be incorporated into the FHWA Adaptation Strategy where appropriate. The Strategy is expected to be completed in 2010.
The Climate Effects Typology and Report will be completed in Spring 2010. FHWA will also be completing the "Draft Conceptual Model" that will address what should reasonably be assumed by practitioners with regard to climate change impacts, its effects differentiated by geographic area, and data to be used in conducting assessments (including data gaps). The Draft Conceptual Model will include criteria to be considered, recommended categories for existing and planned infrastructure, and methods to assess importance, redundancy and scale. FHWA will then conduct pilot studies in 3-4 states to test the conceptual model for vulnerability assessments and inform development of a more complete model.
Adaptation is critical to protecting the nation's transportation system. Working with partners, including AASHTO, FHWA will provide leadership, training, technical assistance and information to policymakers, transportation planners, and system managers to adapt to climate change in order to continue to deliver the public a safe, reliable, effective, and sustainable transportation system.