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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.

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Houston-Galveston Area Council Foresight Panel on Environmental Effects Report – Transportation Recommendations

December 16, 2008

The Houston-Galveston Area Council Foresight Panel on Environmental Effects (the Panel) published a 2008 report informing local governments in the region of possible effects of climate change on their transportation infrastructure and recommending how to best reduce the risk of those impacts. The Panel synthesized climate change effects in the region including sea-level rise, increases in temperature, and more frequent and intense storm events interspersed with periods of drought. The report looks at impacts across both the built and natural environments, but this case study focuses solely on the recommendations that apply to transportation infrastructure.

Related Organizations: Houston-Galveston Area Council

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Impacts of Climate Change on Transportation: Freight Flow in Gulf Coast

2008

From the Transportation Research Board (TRB) report Potential Impacts of Climate Change on U. S. Transportation, this case study describes the transportation sector’s response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. It focuses on the storms’ impact to national-level freight movement, highlighting efforts to reroute traffic in order to avoid long-lasting disruptions. Despite damage to Gulf Coast transportation systems from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the region experienced only modest disruptions to freight flow because transportation system redundancies allowed traffic to be rerouted away from impacted areas.

Related Organizations: Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Academies

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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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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Elevated Ventilation Grates for New York City’s Subway System

2009

New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) installed raised ventilation grates at 25 different locations throughout the city in order to reduce flooding of their subway system. Similar strategies could be used for underground highway assets, such as tunnels, where ventilation systems are at risk of flooding.

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

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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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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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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Oregon Guidance on Biofilters for Storm Water Discharge Pollution Removal

January 2003

In 2003, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) published guidance on the use of “biofilters” to remove pollution from stormwater. Biofilters include a variety of green infrastructure techniques installed along roadways to filter pollution from stormwater runoff such as constructed wetlands and bioswales (vegetated swales or ditches), among others. The guidance details the design best management practices (BMPs) that have been proven to work well in constructing biofilters, and argues that biofilters may be the “most economical” way to remove sediment and other pollutants from runoff.

Related Organizations: Oregon Department of Environmental Quality

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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FHWA Resilience Pilots

FHWA supported the work of state Departments of Transportation (DOTs) and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to develop and pilot approaches for assessing the vulnerability of transportation systems to climate change and develop strategies for building resilience in the transportation sector. Nineteen pilot projects were selected and the pilot jurisdictions worked with FHWA's Climate Change and Extreme Weather Vulnerability Assessment Framework. This FHWA website includes the individual pilot studies for the pilot projects funded in 2013-2015 and webinars of the pilot teams discussing their work and their findings.

Related Organizations: New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) , Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), Washington State Department of Transportation, Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization, Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO), Iowa Department of Transportation, Maryland State Highway Administration, North Central Texas Council of Governments, Tennessee Department of Transportation

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Connecticut DOT - Walk Bridge Replacement Project

The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) is replacing the Norwalk River Railroad Bridge (Walk Bridge) to address the current structure’s vulnerability to climate hazards such as storm damage and heat. The 118-year old Walk Bridge already experiences frequent and costly service failures, including closure failures due to extreme heat. CTDOT expects that heat-related operational failures will increase as the number of high-heat days increase with climate change.   The Walk Bridge is a “swing bridge” spanning the Norwalk River in the Southeast part of the state.

Related Organizations: Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT), Federal Transit Administration (FTA)

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Minnesota DOT Flood Mitigation Program

The state of Minnesota created a $50 million Minnesota Department of Transportation (“MnDOT”) Flood Mitigation Program (“Program”) to increase the resilience of transportation system after severe spring floods in 2010 caused over $64 million in damages in the state. The Flood Mitigation Program will fund repairs, elevations, and realignments to road and bridges, as well as improvements to drainage structures. Although the program documents do not explicitly cite to climate change, MnDOT lists the Flood Mitigation Program as an adaptation action that the agency is taking to prepare for climate change.

Related Organizations: Minnesota Department of Transportation

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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