San Diego Association of Governments Climate Action Strategy – Transportation Goal

The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) 2010 Climate Action Strategy, intended to guide regional and local policymakers in addressing climate change and preparing for its effects, includes among its goals to “protect transportation infrastructure from climate change impacts.” The Strategy identifies the climate change impacts most likely to affect the San Diego area, including extreme heat, greater risk of mudslides after wildfires, and sea-level rise and storm surge, and lists policy measures that SANDAG and local governments can take to address them. The Strategy’s overall goals focus on the areas where SANDAG and local government agencies have authority and opportunity to contribute to climate change mitigation and preparedness, including land use and transportation infrastructure. The recommended policy measures are intended to provide a list of options for SANDAG to consider in updating its Regional Transportation Plan and Regional Comprehensive Plan and for local governments to use in updating their General Plans.

One of nine main policy goals, the Strategy’s Goal 4 is to protect transportation infrastructure from climate change impacts. The Strategy identifies three primary climate change impacts that will affect San Diego area transportation infrastructure: more frequent and more prolonged periods of extreme heat, increased risk of mudslides due to more frequent wildfires and rainfall, and increased sea level rise and storm surge.

To protect transportation infrastructure from extreme heat impacts, such as increased risk of highway and rail track buckling and other deterioration, the Strategy suggests the following policy measures:

  • Research and develop materials that are more resilient to high temperatures;
  • Increase inspection frequency and budget for increased maintenance;
  • Incorporate adaptive management and monitoring into regional transportation planning; and
  • Align government, academia, and other stakeholders in developing adaptation strategies.

To protect transportation infrastructure from sea level rise and storm surge, the Strategy recommends the following:

  • Develop a San Diego region climate vulnerability plan to identify areas threatened by sea level rise and storm surge;
  • Adjust infrastructure design, location, and construction standards to incorporate sea level rise, storm surge, and more frequent flooding;
  • Minimize development in floodplains and other areas at risk from storm surge and sea level rise;
  • Involve a multi-disciplinary team including experts in climate change, coastal hazards, hydraulics, and bridge design in the scoping phase of coastal bridge projects; and
  • Incorporate adaptive management into regional transportation planning.

To protect transportation infrastructure from mudslides due to wildfires, the Strategy suggests the following policy measures:

  • After wildfires, increase bank stabilization and erosion control adjacent to transportation infrastructure; and
  • Replant vegetation in wildfire-affected areas to stabilize soils.

Across all climate impacts, the Strategy recommends that SANDAG and local governments consider climate adaptation in the design and siting of new infrastructure projects and in improvements to existing infrastructure.

The SANDAG Climate Action Strategy is intended to guide policymakers in the San Diego Area to address climate change by reducing emissions that contribute to climate change and to prepare for future climate impacts. SANDAG recently completed an integrated planning effort, known as San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan, which merged its Regional Comprehensive Plan with the 2050 Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy; the new combined plan was adopted in October 2015. Policies in the San Diego Forward plan address both reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting transportation infrastructure from climate impacts as the SANDAG Strategy recommends.


This Adaptation Clearinghouse entry was prepared with support from the Federal Highway Administration. This entry was last updated on March 21, 2016.


Publication Date: March 2010

Related Organizations:

  • San Diego Association of Governments


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Adaptation plan

States Affected:


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