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Assessment of the Body of Knowledge on Incorporating Climate Change Adaptation Measures into Transportation Projects

8 Adaptation Guidance and Resources

The National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) is in the process of developing a guide that presents a diagnostic framework for undertaking an adaptation assessment (NCHRP ongoing). The guide provides information to help transportation practitioners assess the potential climate impacts facing their highway system, consider various adaptation strategies, and incorporate adaptation into the transportation planning process. The final products will include a practitioner's guide, a supporting software tool, and a project final report.

TRB is expected to soon release Synthesis 20-05/Topic 44-08, "Response to Extreme Weather Impacts on Transportation Systems," expected to become the precursor for a database for supporting adaptation planning (TRB ongoing). The study will review eight to ten case studies of extreme events on transportation systems to document preparedness, impacts, response and recovery, fiscal implications, lessons learned, and research needs.

National Center for Freight & Infrastructure Research and Education is conducting a DOT-funded project to develop a method to prioritize critical highway infrastructure by taking into consideration the risks associated with future flooding events (CFIRE ongoing). In particular, the methodology is expected to estimate the actual transportation infrastructure cost of flooding events and evaluate the costs and benefits of potential adaptation strategies.

Other resources look at incorporating adaptation into transportation decision making by investigating what types of strategies are best for various agencies. The National Center for Transit Research (NCTR) is conducting an ongoing study on "Transit Agency Adaptation to Extreme Weather Events" (Welch et al. ongoing). The ongoing study intends to go beyond some of the traditional research that assesses current adaptation activities by attempting to explain why some transit agencies adopt certain strategies while others adopt different strategies. The research will build on existing resources by not only identifying useful transit adaptation strategies, but also providing an approach to assessing various options.

The Vanderbilt Center for Transportation Research (VECTOR) is developing a method to guide transportation adaptation decisions by focusing on a case-study location in the U.S. where a significant weather event has occurred in the recent past (Dobbins and Abkowitz ongoing). After selecting the project site, the study will determine the impacts of the adverse weather event on critical transportation infrastructure in economic, environmental, and social terms. The project will then develop impact thresholds and compile a list of adaptation strategies associated with different degrees of thresholds.

The Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium is conducting a literature review, "Assessing Transit Agencies' Climate Change Adaptation Needs" (OTREC ongoing). This first component of the research will develop a baseline understanding of policy and program responses to climate impacts that public transportation agencies across the nation are taking. The second phase of the project will develop a case study of a public transportation agency in Portland, Oregon, to gain a detailed understanding of adaptation needs.

Updated: 3/27/2014
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