Delaware County, Pennsylvania Roadmap for Adapting to Coastal Risk – Transportation Sector

This Roadmap for Adapting to Coastal Risk evaluates climate-related hazards, vulnerabilities, and planning priorities for Delaware County, Pennsylvania. The Roadmap was developed through a workshop for local decision-makers in Delaware County. Infrastructure was one of the topics addressed by workshop participants, which includes the transportation sector.

Delaware County is located along the Delaware River, just east of Philadelphia. The region is heavily developed, with areas of high population density as well as industrial areas. The Roadmap identifies flooding as the primary climate-related hazard that threatens Delaware County, both from severe storms and long-term sea-level rise. In particular, municipalities directly adjacent to the Delaware River are at risk from coastal flooding along the tidal tributaries.

For the transportation sector, the Roadmap identifies major infrastructure assets and highlights vulnerabilities to climate-related hazards. Issues and concerns are addressed specifically for coastal municipalities. For example, within the Tinicum Township, there is one primary evacuation route for residents. The alternate route is subject to heavy truck traffic from a large UPS facility. If flooding blocks the primary evacuation route, the alternate route is at risk of overcrowding.

Within the City of Chester, freight rail is used to transport toxic materials through the area. The tracks are not maintained well, and could be damaged in the event of flooding. In addition, there are only a few evacuation routes. If flooding damages the highways and bridges leading out of Chester, many residents could be trapped. Major evacuation routes are also at risk for flooding in the Township of Ridley and the Boroughs of Marcus Hook, Ridley Park, and Eddystone.

The Roadmap also discusses existing studies and continuing data needs. Delaware County has a Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP), but the Roadmap states a need to better connect the detailed information in the HMP to specific infrastructure vulnerabilities, such as: 1) construction codes and practices, 2) age and condition, 3) record of repetitive losses, 4) criticality of function, and 5) exposure in high hazard areas. In addition, the Roadmap recommends strengthening the link between long-range transportation planning and considerations for climate adaptation.

The Roadmap was prepared through a hands-on workshop that was designed and facilitated by the NOAA Coastal Services Center. Workshop participants were primarily municipal planners, but also included staff from state agencies, federal agencies, and non-government organizations. The participants were divided into four groups that each created a set of storyboards, using materials such as maps, photos, reports, and key statistics. The Roadmap combines these storyboards and the resulting workshop discussion into a single narrative. The Roadmap is intended to be a starting point for defining next steps and developing proposed actions for climate adaptation in Delaware County. Both the workshop and Roadmap were funded through the National Sea Grant’s Community Climate Change Adaptation Initiative.


This Adaptation Clearinghouse entry was prepared with support from the Federal Highway Administration. This entry was last updated on October 30, 2015.


Publication Date: 2010

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  • Adaptation plan

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