Transportation Elements of the City of Baltimore Disaster Preparedness and Planning Project (DP3)

The City of Baltimore incorporated consideration of climate change in a combined all hazard mitigation and climate adaptation plan (“plan”); the plan was developed through a disaster preparedness and planning project (“DP3”).   The DP3 plan examines the vulnerability of the city’s transportation systems, including transit systems and critical transportation routes, among other vulnerabilities. 

The City of Baltimore is located on the eastern seaboard in the Mid-Atlantic region in Maryland.  The harbor city has 60 miles of waterfront and is situated along the Patapsco River and the Chesapeake Bay.  The plan assesses the city’s vulnerability to a range of climate change impacts, including: an average increase in temperature of 3-8°F, an increase in heat waves, a 40% increase in intense precipitation, more intense storms, and 24 to 48 inches of sea-level rise by the end of the century.  The plan assesses impacts on infrastructure (major roadways, rail lines, bridges, and tunnels) from extreme heat, flooding from severe storms, and sink holes from lack of adequate drainage.  The plan estimates that 2 feet of sea-level rise would flood 800 miles of roadways and affect 93 bridges, culverts, and highway structures; and a 5-foot rise would inundate 3,700 miles of roadway. The plan also looks at how impacts to transportation infrastructure can have disproportionate impacts to low-income communities that are dependent on reliable infrastructure and transit to earn wages to support their families.

The plan includes a number of recommendations for increasing the resilience of the city’s transportation systems, including the following:

  • Assess the vulnerability of the city’s transportation assets.
  • Improve stormwater management to reduce stream flooding that erodes bridge supports.
  • Design bridges to withstand prolonged periods of high heat and increase inspections and maintenance.
  • Research rating systems for infrastructure and road projects.
  • Incorporate best practices in the design, construction, and maintenance of transportation assets.
  • Require back-up powered street lighting and signals along evacuation routes.
  • Develop a comprehensive evacuation plan and coordinate with regional partners.
  • Make available a dedicated network of pedestrian and bike routes.
  • Prioritize infrastructure upgrades for assets at risk of impacts from flooding and storm surges.
  • Raise streets in flood-prone areas.
  • Encourage development of green streets that reduce impervious surfaces and incorporate measures to capture stormwater runoff.
  • Encourage use of permeable pavements in non-critical roadways, sidewalks, parking lots, and alleys.
  • Identify need for upgrades in culvert capacity.
  • Use flood gates and barriers in transportation tunnels.
  • Implement a repaving strategy that reduces heat-related damage to asphalt and extends the life of the road surface.
  • Develop a reconstruction and repair strategy to reduce damage and operation and maintenance costs.
  • Develop deicing strategies and materials for extreme cold temperatures.
  • Ensure planning of new transit lines considers long-term impacts and incorporates adaptation strategies.

The plan also discusses the importance of urban tree canopy for reducing urban heat and air quality impacts of climate change, and much of the city’s urban canopy is located along street right of ways and sidewalks.  The city plans to develop a comprehensive list of tree species that can withstand changes in the climate and a maintenance program from maintaining and enhancing the city’s urban tree canopy.

Each strategy includes “implementation guidelines” that specify the lead agency charged with implementing the strategy, the stakeholders the lead agency will need to engage with, the goals that the strategy will help the city accomplish, linkages with other goals in the plan, and timelines for implementation.  The city’s Office of Sustainability is charged with general oversight and working with the lead agencies to ensure implementation and updates to the plan.  The plan also calls for the development of indicators to help the city monitor and assess the efficacy of implemented actions. 

The plan also lists a number of funding sources that city agencies could look to fund implementation of the actions called for in the plan, including federal sources: the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, Flood Mitigation Assistance Program, Public Assistance Program, Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program, Repetitive Flood Claims and Severe Repetitive Loss Grants, Small Business Administration Loan Programs, Community Development Block Grants; and state funds from Maryland Emergency Management Agency, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and others.

The DP3 Plan was officially endorsed by the DP3 Advisory Committee in August 2013, and the city’s Sustainability Commission and Planning Commission in October 2013 and was presented to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Maryland Emergency Management Agency for approval.  The DP3 plan is the city’s official hazard mitigation plan, which makes the city eligible for federal disaster recovery assistance in the aftermath of a presidentially declared disaster.  


This Adaptation Clearinghouse entry was prepared with support from the Federal Highway Administration. This entry was last updated on January 28, 2016.


Publication Date: October 2013

Related Organizations:

  • City of Baltimore, Maryland


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Adaptation plan
  • Plans (other)

States Affected:


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