FHWA Synthesis of Approaches for Addressing Resilience in Project Development

Developed by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), this report summarizes lessons and findings from a range of research projects, pilot projects, and other studies conducted or sponsored by FHWA in the area of climate change resilience for transportation. The report is designed particularly for those working in transportation project development processes, to help identify the key process steps and methods for incorporating climate change into project design and decisionmaking.

The first few chapters of the report introduce the project development process, overview ways to consider climate change during environmental review and project design, and provide information on climate change stressors, developing projections, and dealing with uncertainty. The report recommends that practitioners conduct climate-informed adaptation studies early in the project development process; specifically, climate change should be considered in planning, project scoping, and preliminary design and engineering assessment phases, as these phases offer the greatest potential to ensure that engineering-informed adaptation studies impact the ultimate design of the project.

Chapter 5 addresses climate resilient engineering assessments and design, focusing on four distinct engineering disciplines. It synthesizes the state of knowledge on climate sensitivities, guidance from FHWA, and lessons and adaptation options for each of the four engineering disciplines:

  1. Coastal Hydraulics
  2. Riverine Flooding
  3. Pavements and Soils
  4. Mechanical and Electrical Systems

This chapter draws heavily on lessons developed through the Transportation Engineering Approaches to Climate Resilience (TEACR) project, in which several detailed engineering adaptation assessments were conducted on a variety of transportation asset types in different parts of the country in order to develop recommendations for how engineering assessments can lead to more resilient infrastructure design.

Other chapters of the report describe different economic analysis approaches that can be used to help select the most cost-effective adaptation strategy, additional considerations that may factor into project decisionmaking, and the importance of monitoring and revisiting adaptation analyses for effective management.

The report drew on lessons from numerous research efforts led or funded by FHWA, including the FHWA-funded Climate Change Resilience Pilot Projects, the Gulf Coast Study (Phase 2), the Hurricane Sandy Follow-up Vulnerability Assessment and Resilience Study, and the Transportation Engineering Approaches to Climate Resilience (TEACR) assessments. It also drew on guidance provided in the FHWA engineering manuals, including HEC-17, Highways in the River Environment - Floodplains, Extreme Events, Risk, and Resilience, and HEC-25 Vol. 2, Highways in the Coastal Environment: Assessing Extreme Events.


Publication Date: July 2017

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  • Planning guides


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