New York Metropolitan Transportation Council’s Plan 2040: A Shared Vision for Sustainable Growth

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Council’s (NYMTC) Regional Transportation Plan (Plan 2040) looks at strategies for incorporating climate change resilience throughout the entire transportation system. Chapter 2.5 of the plan discusses “Resiliency and Climate Adaptation Strategies” for the NYMTC region. Plan 2040 reviews the NYMTC region’s jurisdictions to identify vulnerability assessments and resiliency plans, establish common goals, and make recommendations for strategies and projects under the region’s transportation improvement program (TIP) that will improve the resiliency of the system.  

Forecasts for the metropolitan region were made using models and climate data from IPCC’s 2007 report. The key climate change vulnerabilities for the region’s transportation networks include droughts and coastal inundation. The forecasting also looked at changes in population, employment, the labor force, household size, daily auto trips, daily transit trips, daily vehicle miles traveled, and daily vehicle hours of travel. Forecasts for all eight of these metrics were produced for 2014 and 2040 as a basis for showing how the NYMTC planning area will change over the course of Plan 2040.

One (of seven) shared goals of the Plan is to “improve the resilience of the regional transportation system.” Under this shared goal, NYMTC’s members pledge to “continue to plan for improving the resiliency of the transportation system so that the system can better resist disruptions to services and facilities and recover from them when they occur.” This goal outlines near-term actions for improving the resiliency of the system, including: planning and implementing Hurricane Sandy recovery projects, New York-New Jersey-Connecticut Transportation Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Analysis, and Nassau County Coastal Evacuation Routes project; creating new cooperative partnerships across agencies for responding to disasters; and pursuing new partnerships through the Federal Disaster Recovery Framework.

In Chapter 4.5 of the Plan, specific plans and projects are identified that will build system resilience and increase transportation security:

  • The metropolitan transportation authority (MTA) will re-examine its infrastructure to try to prevent damage from extreme weather events, like Sandy.
  • The Port Authority is reviewing facility systems to control flooding to help anticipate and prevent other incidents; and is developing lessons-learned reviews for improving communication with the traveling public and other transportation operators.
  • New York State’s Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) is undertaking efforts to identify critical transportation infrastructure within the region that are vulnerable to extreme weather events, storm surge, sea level rise and seismic events, and to develop a risk assessment of transportation infrastructure that will assist in future capital and emergency mobility planning. The agency released a study entitled Mainstreaming Climate Change Adaptation Strategies into New York State Department of Transportation’s Operationsto provide a framework for integrating adaptation into decision-making.
  • New York City is applying lessons learned from Sandy recovery to better prepare and respond to future disasters (including consideration of pedestrian and bike options that were critical after the storm).
  • Westchester County is looking at adapting services and infrastructure such as detours for buses and mitigation plans to prepare for more frequent and severe storms.
  • Rockland County is coordinating with utility companies to ensure that they can restore transportation infrastructure in a more timely manner after a storm.  Some initiatives include direct links of communication between transportation agencies, responders and utilities, efforts to bury critical power lines, and tree monitoring programs.
  • Suffolk County is working to connect Long Island through Bus Rapid Transit, an innovative transit method that was critical in restoring transportation after Sandy. 
  • Nassau County learned from Sandy that its Department of Public Works must ensure to bid contracts in a manner that complies with federal disaster recovery requirements. The County also identified the need to establish an Emergency Operations plan related for traffic control addressing the roles and responsibilities of personnel and including emergency procedures for a variety of disaster scenarios.

The Plan also catalogues the current plans, vulnerability assessments, and collaborations of NYMTC’s jurisdictions that enhance resiliency of the transportation system in the region. Identified resiliency activities and plans in the region include:

  • New York City’s waterfront plan, which includes an increased climate resiliency component.
  • The New York-Connecticut Sustainable Communities Consortium, which includes a goal to improve the environment and create a strategy to build resilience to the effects of climate change.
  • The New York-New Jersey-Connecticut Transportation Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Analysis, Region-Wide, which includes a goal to assess the impacts of October 2012’s Hurricane Sandy on transportation assets; identify adaptation strategies to increase the resilience of those assets to the impacts of extreme weather events and the possible future impacts of climate change; and perform a gap analysis for the region, consolidate data sources and information, and identify critical areas and transportation assets generally.
  • New York State’s Climate Action Council is tasked with identifying strategies that will protect transportation assets from extreme weather events and help reduce the region’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The NYS 2100 Commission is tasked with examining and evaluating key vulnerabilities in the state’s infrastructure and recommending actions to strengthen and improve the resiliency of those systems.

The Plan also notes that more must be done to ensure that these existing plans are carried out and to ensure that existing infrastructure is protected from future storms. In addition, strategies to improve transportation security at the federal, state, local and regional level, and improve the resilience of the system to impacts from extreme weather and climate are provided. 

This Adaptation Clearinghouse entry was prepared with support  from the Federal Highway Administration. This entry was last updated on October 28, 2015.


Publication Date: September 4, 2013

Related Organizations:

  • New York Metropolitan Transportation Council


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Resource Types:

  • Plans (other)

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