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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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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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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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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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Coastal Regional Sediment Management Plan for Monterey Bay, California - Protection of Highway 1

November 2008

This Coastal Regional Sediment Management Plan identifies four strategies to reduce coastal erosion along southern Monterey Bay in California. One of these strategies involves beach nourishment to protect critical infrastructure, including sections of California Highway 1.

Related Organizations: Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments, California Coastal Sediment Management Workgroup

Resource Category: Planning

 

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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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Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) Climate Change Action Plan

June 2008

This Climate Change Action Plan was developed by the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector in the state, and to adapt the state’s transportation infrastructure to the effects of climate change. 

Related Organizations: Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans)

Resource Category: Planning

 

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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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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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Florida “Sacrificial” Roads Projects

2007

Recognizing the increasing maintenance and replacement costs for coastal roads in Florida due to more frequent flooding and storm surge, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) – Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division (EFL), assisted the National Park Service and other partners designing specific that are prone to be frequently washed out to have minimal environmental impact. Rising sea levels and coastal storms, which are projected to increase in intensity as a result of climate change, are creating more challenges for building and maintaining transportation infrastructure along coastal shorelines.

Related Organizations: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), National Park Service (NPS)

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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