Charlotte County-Punta Gorda 2035 Long Range Transportation Plan

The Charlotte County – Punta Gorda Metropolitan Planning Organization’s (MPO) Long Range Transportation Plan contains a section on hazard mitigation designed to help the MPO identify specific roadways and properties within the region that are at risk of sea-level rise and storm surges, and identify strategies that can help protect the region from these climate-change-induced hazards. Chapter 13 profiles natural and man-made hazards that are common in the MPO area; presents estimates of the level of exposure and vulnerability of various components of the transportation system; describes a scenario-based planning exercise to integrate hazard mitigation into collaborative land-use and transportation planning; identifies various mitigation strategies to reduce the vulnerability of the transportation system; and suggests and incorporates a new set of goals and objectives into the LRTP. 

The MPO partnered with the Florida Planning and Development Laboratory at Florida State University’s (FSU) Department of Urban and Regional Planning to undertake a multi-year study to model the impacts of natural hazards on the county’s transportation system (“Study”).  Using a GIS-based model, the project partners conduced a vulnerability assessment (“assessment”) of the existing road, bridge and causeway system to flooding associated with various hazards, including 100-year storm events, storm surge flooding, and sea-level rise. The assessment classified as “vulnerable” all road segments where 10,000 or more total square feet of the right of way were inundated under different sea-level rise and storm surge scenarios. Based on the vulnerability assessment, the chapter recommends that hazard mitigation should be added as one of the overall evaluation criteria for determining the cost effectiveness of road improvements. To measure impact on human life, the project partners used an amended version of the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council’s Evacuation Clearance Model to calculate the evacuation clearance time for the pattern of development indicated in the comprehensive plans. The assessment revealed that if population and employment increase as anticipated, Charlotte County would be not be able to evacuate populations living in places exposed to category 4 or 5 storms within the 16 hour evacuation window used in Florida.

As part of the study, a scenario-planning exercise was conducted to examine three scenarios that took into account property exposure, transportation effectiveness, and evacuation clearance. For each scenario, the study forecast transportation demand to determine which roadway segments would be most burdened under each scenario, and which land-use scenarios would yield the most efficient roadway network.  The forecast identified “areas of concern” that the county will use to identify “high priority improvement areas” when making future transportation decisions. The study included a recommendation for a preferred scenario to guide future land use and transportation planning in the region, as well as hazard mitigation strategies. The preferred scenario promotes growth in urban areas, and accommodates new development in ways that recognize some of the vulnerabilities associated with hurricane storm surge and longer-term sea-level rise. Recommended hazard mitigation actions including improvements to mitigation and recovery planning; transportation system planning; evacuation; storm water drainage; and design and material modifications that could be used to mitigate future hazards.

As a result of the hazard mitigation study, several policies were modified in the LRTP’s Goals and Objectives (e.g., Policy 2.4.1: Identify evacuation routes and coordinate with local agencies to maintain sufficient capacities and mitigate hazard impacts to these routes).  Additionally, Chapter 13 recommends actions that the MPO can take to address specific areas of vulnerability in future updates of the LRTP, such as considering protection and relocation/retreat options that principally address sea-level rise and associated impacts, and holding public workshops that ask residents and business owners to consider the need for eventual relocation or retreat of transportation assets.

The MPO is developing its update to the 2035 LRTP, and released a final review draft of its 2040 LRTP in October 2015. The 2040 LRTP discusses sea-level rise vulnerability for the county, and references the hazard mitigation study conducted in partnership with FSU during the 2035 LRTP planning process. The 2040 LRTP includes flood and sea-level rise vulnerability in its hazard mitigation effectiveness criterion for evaluating projects. More points are awarded for providing alternative routes for vulnerable roads, with points also awarded for mitigating risk through design. It also identifies climate change as a “proactive improvement” not currently required but that MPOs may wish to consider to minimize impacts to the transportation system. It recognizes that state legislation encourages MPOs to consider integrated strategies in their LRTPs for land use and transportation that increase sustainable development and reduce emissions.


This Adaptation Clearinghouse entry was prepared with support from the Federal Highway Administration. This entry was last updated on January 31, 2016.


Publication Date: December 2010

Related Organizations:

  • Charlotte County - Punta Gorda, Florida Metropolitan Planning Organization

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  • Plans (other)

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