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Summary Report: Peer Workshop on Adaptation to Climate Change Impacts

5.0 Input to Fhwa Climate Change Strategic Framework

The discussion during the peer exchange, as well as the recent FHWA surveys of states, suggest that few DOTs are pursuing climate change adaptation as a distinct policy or program area (activity is mainly in those states already experiencing climate change impacts). Participants in this peer exchange generally voiced a desire to expand existing efforts and/or undertake new efforts, while at the same time being conscious of current budget constraints. There was a consensus that the federal government needs to put forward policies, resources and assistance if these efforts are to be cost-effective and acceptable to decision-makers and the public. For example, DOTs and others desire technical assistance and guidance on approaches, information on best practices across the nation, data on climate change scenarios and impacts, and a policy "roadmap" at the national level so different states or regions are not inadvertently working at odds with each other.

Overall, peer exchange participants concurred that additional federal resources - both technical and financial - are needed to help DOTs pursue effective adaptation initiatives. Participants also suggested a variety of more specific needs, which may be grouped under the headings of Policy and Guidance, Information Sharing and Dissemination, Technical Assistance, and Research.

5.1 Policy and Guidance Needs

  1. National transportation policy that provides clear connections to national energy policy and articulates USDOT role in climate change adaptation, particularly regarding reconciling different state-level perspectives on climate change
  2. Definition(s) of "critical infrastructure" and "strategic investments"
  3. Prioritization frameworks for climate change adaptation needs in context of overall transportation investment, and between adaptation and mitigation-related investment
  4. Definition of "strategic disinvestment" and guidance on its application in context of climate change adaptation and diminishing revenues
  5. Development of a collaborative and flexible approach to the federal permitting process that is aligned with DOTs regarding data, methods and process
  6. Facilitation of cross-disciplinary collaboration (e.g., Design and Planning) within DOTs and between agencies and governmental levels

5.2 Information-sharing and Dissemination Needs

  1. Establishment of a readily-accessible information clearinghouse on climate change mitigation and adaptation in transportation
  2. Development of "manuals" on climate change adaptation for use in different situations and environments
  3. Active dissemination of information on research results, best practices, etc. through additional peer exchanges, the Internet and documents/reports

5.3 Technical Assistance Needs

  1. Guidance/technical assistance on vulnerable infrastructure inventorying, including data collection methods and management
  2. Development of flexible design guidelines appropriate for a climate change adaptation working environment
  3. Assistance and guidance on risk management approaches and methodologies
  4. Guidance on developing cost estimates for adaptation initiatives and programs

5.4 Research Needs

  1. Methods for translating global climate change trends research into local (or at least regional) forecasts that support development of appropriate adaptation strategies
  2. Cost-effective approaches to identifying, managing and bolstering critical infrastructure
  3. Improved forecasting models that specifically account for climate change scenarios and different geographies
  4. Development of transportation system performance measures that provide information relevant to prioritization and decision-making on adaptation approaches and projects
Updated: 4/3/2012
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