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Transportation Sector Case Studies

These resources include case studies of adaptation in the transportation sector, developed by the Georgetown Climate Center as part of a cooperative agreement with the Federal Highway Administration. The case studies include examples of how adaptation has been incorporated into decisionmaking at all stages of the transportation lifecycle: assessing vulnerability, planning, design, and operations and maintenance.

Resources are automatically presented by rating, but can also be sorted by date and title. Apply additional filters to narrow the list by climate impact, region, transportation mode or stage of decision-making, state, or jurisdictional focus.

 

 

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Maine Department of Transportation – Bridge Scour Management

Recognizing that climate change will cause changes in precipitation and stream flow, the state of Maine has taken several steps to evaluate the vulnerability of its bridges to scour and implement corrective actions to safeguard those most critical. Among the transportation infrastructure adaptation policies recommended in Maine DOT’s report Climate Change and Transportation in Maine were two scour-related goals: inspecting all bridges at least every two years, and conducting underwater inspections for scour and structural integrity every 60 months.

Related Organizations: Maine Department of Transportation, State of Maine

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Confusion Hill Bypass in Mendocino County, California

2009

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) completed the Confusion Hill Bypass project to reduce the vulnerability of Highway 101 in Northern California to landslides. Between 1996 and 2003, Caltrans spent a total of $14 million repairing and maintaining a 2-mile stretch of the highway. In the winter of 2002/2003, Highway 101 was closed 10 times due to landslides. Caltrans identified landslides and flooding as constant challenges in Caltrans District 1, which includes Confusion Hill in Mendocino County.

Related Organizations: California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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New York City’s MTA Adaptations to Climate Change – A Categorical Imperative

October 2008

New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) commissioned this report, “MTA Adaptations to Climate Change: A Categorical Imperative,” to provide a risk-based framework for adapting MTA facilities to climate change impacts.   The assessment covers the entire MTA region, which includes New York City, 12 counties in southeastern New York, and two counties in southwestern Connecticut. Specifically, the report identifies steps for completing a vulnerability assessment; develops climate change scenarios for the region; conducts an initial survey of key vulnerabilities of MTA assets and operations by agency and type of hazard; and offers recommendations for ways that the MTA can assess critical infrastructure, plan for, and implement climate change adaptation projects.

Related Organizations: New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), City of New York, New York

Authors or Affiliated Users: Klaus Jacob, Cynthia Rosenzweig, Radley Horton, David Major, Vivien Gornitz

Resource Category: Assessments

 

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Greenworks Philadelphia Plan - Transportation Recommendations

2009

Greenworks Philadelphia is a comprehensive six-year plan (“Plan”) that sets goals for “greening” the City of Philadelphia – increasing the city’s energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving the environmental quality of the city, and adapting to the dangers posed by climate change. This case study focuses only on the transportation-related recommendations included in the Plan – increasing the percentage of city assets in a “state of good repair” and using green infrastructure strategies to improve stormwater management and reduce flood impacts to transportation infrastructure.

Related Organizations: City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Philadelphia Water Department, Columbia University

Resource Category: Planning

 

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California Climate Adaptation Strategy - Energy and Transportation Infrastructure

December 2009

Chapter X of the 2009 California Climate Adaptation Strategy (CAS) summarizes projected climate change impacts to transportation and energy infrastructure in the state, and recommends adaptation strategies to address those impacts. California’s extensive infrastructure system will likely be subject to climate change-related impacts from higher temperatures, shifting precipitation patterns, sea-level rise, and extreme weather events. To adapt to these impacts, the CAS recommends four adaptation strategies for transportation infrastructure: develop a climate vulnerability assessment; incorporate climate change into existing investment decisions; develop design standards to minimize risks; and incorporate climate change considerations into disaster preparedness planning.

Related Organizations: California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), California Natural Resources Agency

Resource Category: Planning

 

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Estimating Future Costs for Alaska Public Infrastructure at Risk from Climate Change

June 2007

The Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) at the University of Alaska Anchorage created a model to estimate how much climate change could add to the costs of maintaining public infrastructure in Alaska in the near future (by 2030). This report describes how that model was developed, and presents preliminary estimates of additional public infrastructure costs resulting from climate change. The report concludes that a changing climate could make it 10 to 20 percent more expensive to build and maintain infrastructure, and that climate change induced damages could add $3.

Related Organizations: University of Alaska Anchorage, Institute of Social and Economic Research (University of Alaska-Anchorage)

Authors or Affiliated Users: Peter Larsen, Scott Goldsmith, Orson Smith, Meghan Wilson, Ken Strzepek, Paul Chinowsky, Ben Saylor

Resource Category: Assessments

 

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Spencer Creek Bridge Replacement and Highway 101 Realignment

May 9, 2006

While replacing the Spencer Creek Bridge, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) also realigned vulnerable sections of Highway 101 approaching the bridge, shifting the highway 50 feet inland in order to avoid expected sea cliff erosion impacts over the intended design life of the bridge and highway.

Related Organizations: Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT)

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Report: “Climate Change Will Impact the Seattle Department of Transportation”

August 9, 2005

Seattle’s Office of City Auditor conducted a review of the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to identify potential operations, services or structures that could be significantly impacted by anticipated changes in the climate of the Pacific Northwest region. The resulting report “Climate Change Will Impact the Seattle Department of Transportation” is designed to assess the potential impacts on Seattle’s transportation operations and infrastructure, raise awareness, and assist policymakers in developing adaptive strategies.

Related Organizations: Seattle Department of Transportation, University of Washington, City of Seattle, Washington

Authors or Affiliated Users: Wendy K. Soo Hoo, Megumi Sumitani, Susah Cohen

Resource Category: Assessments

 

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Porous Asphalt Study: “Effect of Road Shoulder Treatments on Highway Runoff Quality and Quantity”

July 1997

The Washington State Transportation Center (TRAC) studied the effectiveness of porous asphalt road shoulder treatments at reducing the quantity and improving the quality of highway stormwater runoff, compared to traditional asphalt and gravel. Out of the three treatments tested, the porous asphalt shoulders produced both the lowest volume of runoff and runoff with the lowest concentration of pollutants. The report suggests that although porous asphalt may have higher installation costs than traditional asphalt, the use of porous asphalt road shoulders may have long-term economic benefits along with safety and environmental advantages.

Related Organizations: Washington State Department of Transportation

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Pringle Creek (Salem, Oregon) Green Streets Initiative

2006

In 2006, the community of Pringle Creek, Oregon installed porous pavements on 100 percent of its streets, called its “Green Streets” iniative. The project combined a variety of green infrastructure techniques such as rain gardens and bioswales, with porous pavements to mitigate flooding of Pringle Creek streets during heavy precipitation events. The green infrastructure techniques used by the community are designed to return 90 percent of rainwater to the local aquifer, as opposed to flowing as runoff to community storm sewers.

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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