Post Hurricane Sandy Transportation Resilience Study in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut

The Federal Highway Administration led a Hurricane Sandy Resiliency Study to inform ways to improve resilience of the tri-state New York - New Jersey - Connecticut region's transportation system and to inform disaster recovery efforts. The study, which began in 2013 and was completed in late 2017, involved a detailed assessment of the impacts and disruption caused by Hurricane Sandy as well as from several other extreme weather events occurring in the area in 2011, and analyzed vulnerability and risk to the tri-state transportation system at three different scales: regional (entire study area), subarea (corridor/small network), and facility. By scaling the assessments to different levels, the study aims to inform the integration of climate change and extreme weather considerations into processes ranging from regional planning down to facility engineering and design. In addition to applying lessons from Sandy and other northeast disaster events, the study leveraged findings from a 2011 FHWA-sponsored vulnerability assessment pilot project completed in New Jersey.

The study team completed a system-level vulnerability assessment (which focused solely on potential exposure of transportation assets to climate stressors) before narrowing down three subareas to focus on for more detailed assessments: the South Shore of Long Island, the southern edge of Raritan Bay in New Jersey, and the Norwalk-Danbury Corridor in Connecticut. The subarea assessments focused on different climate-related vulnerabilities (e.g., sea-level rise and storm surge, temperature, wind, riverine flooding). For each of these, the study team identified climate stressors and the potential transportation impacts, projected climate scenarios, vulnerability and risk assessment of assets generally in the subarea (considering sensitivity, exposure, and adaptive capacity), and potential adaptation strategies. For example, for the Norwalk-Danbury Corridor, which was primarily assessed for riverine flood risk, the assessment identifies floodprone land acquisition and relocation incentives as one of the longer-term strategies for areas with a lower risk tolerance that therefore require more aggressive investment.

The study team also selected ten different transportation assets in different locations throughout the tri-state region for the facility-level analyses. These facility-level analyses involved engineering-informed assessments of climate risks, identification of potential adaptation strategies, and feasibility and cost-effectiveness analyses of the strategies. The assets selected for these assessments included roadways, bridges, a tunnel, rail tracks and related power infrastructure, and a port.

The assessments completed for this study informed the development and refinement of generalized processes for vulnerability and risk assessment, which makes up the heart of the report and is intended to be used by transportation agencies more widely. The main report is organized into five sections:

  1. An overview of the study context (including federal and state rules, initiatives, and other projects relating to transportation resilience to climate change and extreme weather), objectives, process, and stakeholder engagement.
  2. Damage and disruption summary based on the major storms that hit the tri-state region in 2011-2012.
  3. A catalog of key climate variables and tools that were used to complete vulnerability and risk assessments. The study leveraged utilized projections when they were available.
  4. Description of how to apply a generalized risk and vulnerability assessment process at the regional, corridor/small network, and facility scales.
  5. Examples of how climate change assessments and information can be incorporated into policies, programs, and plans.

The detailed assessments that were completed for the study are included as appendices, in addition to other information that supported these analyses, such as exposure maps and vulnerability assessment process considerations.

The study was completed in partnership with state departments of transportation from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) in the region: the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council, the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, and the South Western Region MPO and the Greater Bridgeport and Valley MPO in Connecticut.

 

 

Publication Date: October 2017

Related Organizations:

  • Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
  • New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT)
  • New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT)
  • Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT)
  • Greater Bridgeport, Connecticut Regional Council
  • New York Metropolitan Transportation Council
  • North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA)
  • South Western Regional Planning Agency (SWRPA)

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  • Assessment

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