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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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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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Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge Restoration and Relocation Efforts

October 2015

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, located at the southern tip of Assateague Island, depends on parking and road facilities that are vulnerable to flooding and erosion.   Refuge managers have been exploring alternatives for responding to these impacts that they anticipate will worsen with sea-level rise and climate change. The refuge is studying alternatives to relocate parking facilities and is using oyster reefs to protect transportation facilities. Parking facilities on the island are made of loose shells and sand so as not to disrupt the natural terrain.

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

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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North Carolina Highway 12 Storm Recovery

The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) is implementing several different solutions to address frequent overwashes, erosion, and more severe damage to North Carolina Highway 12 (NC 12) following Hurricanes Irene and Sandy. These measures, intended to improve the future resilience of the highway, include bridge construction and temporary beach nourishment.

Related Organizations: North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT)

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Elevated Floating Bridge on Washington State Route 520

Spring 2016

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is reconstructing the Evergreen Point floating bridge, which runs over Lake Washington along State Route 520 (SR 520) near Seattle, to better accommodate varying winds and storms. The new design will be elevated, which will better protect drivers and the road from waves and storms, and the pontoons that allow the bridge to float will be designed to withstand higher winds. In its climate impacts vulnerability assessment, WSDOT has recognized that high winds could increase as a result of climate change and more extreme weather events.

Related Organizations: Washington State Department of Transportation

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Tucson, Arizona Rebates for Curb Cuts to Harvest Rainwater

July 2015

In Tucson, curb cuts can reduce flooding on streets and capture water for irrigation in the arid region. Tucson began offering water harvesting rebates for the installation of curb cuts, openings created in the curb to allow stormwater from the street to flow into water-harvesting basins. Curb cuts are used to reduce the amount of stormwater flowing down the street, often diverting that water into basins to irrigate vegetation. The Tucson City Council voted in November 2014 to expand the city’s rainwater harvesting rebate program to provide rebates for curb cut installation.

Related Organizations: City of Tucson, Arizona, City of Tucson, Water Department, Tucson Water

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Toward Sustainable Pavement Systems: A Reference Document

January 2015

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) guide, “Toward Sustainable Pavement Systems: A Reference Document,” synthesizes current knowledge on pavement system sustainability, including the effects that pavement has on climate-related considerations such as stormwater runoff and the urban heat island effect. The guide includes information and extensive synopses of current research on how pavement materials, design, construction, maintenance, and other use considerations can affect and enhance sustainability.

Related Organizations: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Washington, DC Flood Levee System Improvements

December 2014

To prevent water from the Potomac and Anacostia rivers from flooding downtown Washington, D. C. , the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is improving the levee system along the north side of the National Mall, running from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument.   A levee system was originally erected to protect the District in 1939, following a major flood event in 1936.   This project will improve the levee system through a series of upgrades: a permanent closure at 23rd Street and Fort McNair, and the installation of a more robust removable wall, which will provide flood protection but also allow for traffic flow on 17th street between flood events.

Related Organizations: National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), District of Columbia Department of Transportation, National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Plumb Beach Renourishment Project and Protection of Belt Parkway, Brooklyn, New York

2013

The Plumb Beach Renourishment Project involved the placement of sand on the beach to protect the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn, NY. The project, which is managed by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), is ongoing and is being implemented in two phases. In Phase I, the Corps nourished the beach with dredged sand and installed several geotube groins (sand bags) to prevent short-term erosion of the newly-deposited sand. Phase I was completed days before hurricane Sandy devastated the Northeast region.

Related Organizations: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, New York Department of State, New York City Department of Transportation, New York City Department of Environmental Protection, City of New York, New York, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), National Park Service (NPS)

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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NPS Gulf Islands National Seashore - Fort Pickens Ferry System

September 2015

In order to maintain cost-effective, sustainable visitor access to the Gulf Islands National Seashore (GUIS), the National Park Service (NPS) proposed the development of passenger ferry service from Pensacola, Florida, to Fort Pickens. Santa Rosa Island, the site of Fort Pickens and part of GUIS, is susceptible to coastal storms and erosion. The Fort Pickens Road within GUIS is frequently damaged by storms, including hurricanes in 2004 and 2005. The transportation system in the Fort Pickens area is particularly vulnerable to disruptions caused by these impacts.

Related Organizations: National Park Service (NPS)

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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