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Air Quality and Sustainability Highlights

Spring 2013

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Prepared by the Office of Planning, Environment and Realty
Federal Highway Administration

Recent Events and Reports

FHWA Issues Framework for Assessing Climate Vulnerabilities, announces pilots. FHWA's Climate Change & Extreme Weather Vulnerability Assessment Framework is a guide for transportation agencies interested in assessing vulnerability to climate change and extreme weather events. It gives an overview of key steps in conducting vulnerability assessments and uses in-practice examples to demonstrate a variety of ways to gather and process information. It largely draws from the experiences and work of five vulnerability assessment pilot projects that FHWA sponsored in 2010-2011 and USDOT's Gulf Coast Phase 2 study. FHWA is going to hold a series of webinars based on the framework; more information is in the Announcements section below.

FHWA is partnering with DOTs, MPOs, and Federal Land Management Agencies across the country to use and build on the framework through a second round of pilot projects. Descriptions of the 19 new projects and more information on the pilot program are available on FHWA's climate change pilots webpage.

FHWA Looks at Adaptation Planning for Systems Management, Operations. Planning for Systems Management & Operations as part of Climate Change Adaptation summarizes potential climate change effects on transportation system management and operations. The paper, issued by the FHWA Office of Operations, also discusses options for agencies to assess transportation system vulnerabilities and potential changes that could make transportation operations more resilient to climate change.

FHWA Risk-Based Asset Management Report Discusses Climate Resilience. Report 5: Managing External Threats through Risk-Based Asset Management is the final report of a series, Risk-Based Transportation Asset Management: Building Resilience into Transportation Assets. It examines how physical, climatic, seismic, and other external threats can be addressed in risk-based asset management programs. For additional reports in the series and more information on asset management, see FHWA's Asset Management Website

GAO Reports on FHWA, Federal Adaptation Efforts. GAO-13-242, Climate Change: Future Federal Adaptation Efforts Could Better Support Local Infrastructure Decision Makers, released on GAO's website May 14, examines issues related to infrastructure decision making and climate change. GAO delved into climate adaptation of the nation's highway infrastructure (FHWA), wastewater systems (EPA), and space centers (NASA) to report on potential climate impacts, planning, adaptation decision making, federal efforts to address local needs, and opportunities for improvement.

Report Details Alaska Transportation System's Permafrost Vulnerability. In How Vulnerable Is Alaska's Transportation to Climate Change? Managing an Infrastructure Built on Permafrost, Billy Connor and James Harper of the Alaska University Transportation Research Center discuss the history and current changes of Alaska's permafrost and the costly impacts the changes are having on highway infrastructure. They then briefly summarize four strategies for designing infrastructure to account for the changes. The report is available free for TRB members and sponsor agencies.

State and Local News

The California DOT (Caltrans) has recently finalized two documents relating to climate change issues. Addressing Climate Change Adaptation in Regional Transportation Plans - A Guide for California MPOs and RTPAs is intended to provide information to MPOs and state designated Regional Transportation Planning Agencies (RTPAs) on possible steps to incorporate climate change adaptation issues into their long-range transportation plans. This document helps distill down the adaptation issue to assist small MPOs and rural RTPAs.

Caltrans Activities to Address Climate Change - Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Adapting to Impacts quantifies the GHG emission reductions Caltrans has achieved through various actions such as use of LED street lighting, using alternative fuels, use of alternative materials in road construction, and reduced energy usage in office buildings and maintenance facilities.


Transportation Adaptation Webinar Series (May-June)

FHWA is holding a series of four webinars on conducting vulnerability assessments and adapting transportation infrastructure to the impacts of climate change and extreme weather events. The webinars are designed to illustrate the steps included in FHWA's Climate Change & Extreme Weather Vulnerability Assessment Framework and will include examples of areas that have conducted assessments and used the results in planning. The final webinar will focus on lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy.

Session 1: Getting Started-Determining assets to study and climate information (Thursday, May 16, 3:00-4:30 Eastern). Presenters will provide an overview of the key steps involved in conducting a vulnerability assessment as well as examples of studies that include selecting assets and developing climate and extreme weather event information. Registration for this session is full. A recording will be posted to FHWA's adaptation webinars webpage after the event.

Session 2: System-Level Vulnerability Assessments (Thursday, May 30, 3:00-4:30 Eastern). This session will focus on use of information on transportation assets and climate projections to identify vulnerabilities. Register Here

Session 3: Applying the results (Wednesday, June 12, 2:00-3:30 Eastern) Representatives from the Boston Region MPO and Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority will discuss incorporating vulnerability assessment results into agency decision making processes and developing adaptation options. Register Here

Session 4: Hurricane Sandy - Lessons Learned (Thursday, June 20, 2:00-3:30 Eastern) This session will focus on extreme weather preparations, emergency response, recovery, and planning for long term resilience. Register Here

FHWA Seeks State DOT Operations and Maintenance Programs to Implement INVEST; Funding Available. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is seeking to partner with State departments of transportation (DOTs) and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) on implementing INVEST 1.0, FHWA's voluntary self-assessment tool, to assess and enhance the sustainability of their projects and programs. FHWA is particularly interested in examples of state DOTs using the Operations and Maintenance module of the tool.

FHWA seeks to establish a broader collection of case studies and best practices in evaluating and improving highway sustainability. These examples can be shared with other agencies interested in how sustainability can be integrated into their projects and programs. Finally, FHWA seeks the continuous improvement of the INVEST tool and requests feedback on further enhancement of the tool. A limited pool of funding is available to assist in these activities. The solicitation is available at For more info on INVEST, see: or contact or

Solicitation for DOT to Test Energy and Emissions Reduction Policy Analysis Tool (EERPAT). FHWA is seeking applications from DOTs to pilot a screening tool to analyze and compare the effects of various greenhouse gas reduction policies on surface transportation sector emissions. As part of this project, FHWA's project consultants from RSG will be working with State DOT staff to support the development and pilot testing of EERPAT. Limited funding may also be available to help cover a portion of DOT staff resources dedicated to this project. More information on the EERPAT model can be found at Questions can be directed to Diane Turchetta at, or John Davies at

If you have any suggestions for inclusion in future issues of Transportation and Climate Change News, or if someone forwarded this newsletter to you and you'd like to receive it directly in the future, please send your suggestions or request to Becky Lupes at

FHWA HQ Climate Change Contacts in the Office of Planning, Environment & Realty:

Office of Natural Environment, Sustainable Transport & Climate Change Team
Mike Culp, Team Leader,
John Davies,, GHG emissions analysis, modeling, performance measures
Connie Hill Galloway,, sustainability, brownfields and hazardous waste sites
Tina Hodges,, adaptation, sustainability
Heather Holsinger,, sustainability, adaptation, GHG emissions analysis, energy
Rob Hyman,, adaptation, sustainability, GHG emissions analysis
Rob Kafalenos,, adaptation, energy
Becky Lupes,, adaptation, GHG emissions analysis, NEPA
Diane Turchetta,, GHG emissions analysis, energy

Office of Planning
Robin Smith,

Office of Project Development & Environmental Review
Bruce Bender,

Updated: 12/28/2016
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