Assessing Vulnerability and Risk of Climate Change Effects on Transportation Infrastructure: Hampton Roads Virginia FHWA Pilot

This report assesses the anticipated impacts of climate change on transportation infrastructure in the Hampton Roads region, and is a demonstration of the approach utilized to do so. In this region of Virginia, climate impacts - such as sea level rise - are already underway in many of the low-lying communities. This area also is experiencing significant land subsidence (sinking), making it even more vulnerable to sea level rise and resulting floods than some other coastal locations. The region's proximity to the coast makes it particularly susceptible to tropical storms, hurricanes, and tornadoes that can result in turn. In addition to topography, the region is densely populated, and home to many military installations including the largest naval base on the east coast of the U.S. 

The climate impacts addressed in this report were assessed using a novel modeling technique to help prioritize elements of the region's long range strategic plan. The model developed is built in Microsoft Excel, and the detailed steps involved in using the workbook for transportation project prioritization is provided at the end of the document (Appendix A: User guide for implementing the Virginia model), for the benefit of other users seeking to apply the model to their case. 

This study is part of a larger effort by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to understand the vulnerability of critical transportation infrastructure in several regions, and to develop a generalizable methodology that could be easily translated to transportation agencies in different areas. The FHWA built this conceptual model for understanding the impacts of climate change on transportation infrastructure, and administered pilot studies to improve upon the methodology of the modeling effort and resulting strategies. Ultimately, the intention is to provide planning agencies and decision-makers with the tools necessary to identify the infrastructure which is most at risk of climate impacts, and which will result in the most significant consequences.


 


 

Publication Date: 2012

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