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Climate Change Adaptation Peer Exchanges: Comprehensive Report

1. Introduction and Background

Between April 2011 and May 2012, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) convened three peer exchanges on the role of State Departments of Transportation (DOTs) and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) in climate change adaptation. The peer exchanges were held at the following dates and locations:

The purpose of the peer exchanges was to facilitate an exchange of ideas among transportation officials regarding strategies to assess and reduce the vulnerability of their transportation assets and services to projected changes in climate. Since the projected changes in climate and agency objectives differed by region, FHWA tailored each exchange to the region's needs. However, there were similarities among the exchanges. For example, all three exchanges discussed climate change vulnerability assessment, the need for increased collaboration, and communication strategies. The format of these peer exchanges alternated presentations from participants with facilitated group discussions. The small group size and the informal atmosphere allowed for easy information sharing and capacity building among peers.

The Midwest Peer Exchange focused on integrating climate change adaptation into emergency management from both an MPO and DOT perspective. During the first day, Directors of MPOs in Indiana (or their delegates) gathered to discuss emergency planning and integration of climate change adaptation into Hazard Mitigation Plans. During the second day, Midwestern state DOTs discussed criticality and vulnerability of assets, state hazard mitigation planning efforts, and addressing adaptation in asset management and operations decisions.

During the West Coast Peer Exchange, California DOT (Caltrans), Oregon DOT (ODOT), and Washington State DOT (WSDOT) collaborated and discussed strategies for assessing climate change risks, incorporating adaptive strategies into asset management and operations, and communicating climate change adaptation. Since Washington, Oregon, and California have each taken progressive approaches to addressing climate change impacts and vulnerabilities, this peer exchange offered an opportunity for the DOTs in these states to share experiences, challenges, and lessons learned.

Finally, the New England Peer Exchange provided an opportunity for Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) and Regional Planning Commissions (RPCs) in New England to discuss methods of assessing vulnerability and potential opportunities for collaboration and partnership. New England has faced a series of extreme weather events over the past few years, including Hurricane Irene in 2011. MPOs and RPCs in New England are at the forefront of responding to these events and preparing for future weather changes. A representative from the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact also attended this workshop and shared best practices for coordinating among MPOs on sea level rise vulnerability in southeast Florida. During this exchange, local planning organizations shared experiences, challenges, and lessons learned.

This report synthesizes the key themes and lessons from the peer exchanges, including examples of effective practices presented by participants. It includes the following sections:

Appendices A and B contain the peer exchange participant lists and agendas, respectively. Appendix C contains a list of all the resources identified during the peer exchanges as helpful sources of information on vulnerability assessment and adaptation. Reports covering each exchange individually are available on the FHWA Climate Change Adaptation website.[1]


Updated: 12/27/2016
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