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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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Assateague Island National Seashore (AINS) Parking Lot Relocation

National Park Service (NPS) managers at Assateague Island National Seashore (AINS) have developed a plan to adapt roadways and parking areas to excessive erosion and overwashing from storm surges. This plan is in progress, and this case study will be updated accordingly. Two parking lots will be relocated away from the shoreline to reduce their vulnerability to erosion from future storms and help restore natural coastal processes. Additionally, they will be reconstructed from materials that are readily available on Assateague Island, such as clay and crushed clam shell, which will help reduce water flow rates over the parking lots and corresponding risk of erosion.

Related Organizations: National Park Service (NPS)

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Atlanta, Georgia Transit Asset Management System Pilot Project

August 2013

The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) participated in a pilot program (“pilot”) that looks at climate stressors in the Atlanta region, and explores ways that MARTA may modify their asset management system to monitor changes to the region’s assets caused by climate change and help identify response strategies. Under this pilot, MARTA inventoried system assets and used climate risk modeling projections to assess the vulnerability of assets to climate risk; identified strategies to manage risks; and incorporated risk management strategies into lifecycle management plans by monitoring and updating asset records following any change in condition.

Related Organizations: Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Georgia Institute of Technology, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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NYC MTA Storm Surge Protection via Catastrophe Bond Market (New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority)

July 31, 2013

After Hurricane Sandy, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) sold a catastrophe bond in July 2013 to raise funds to manage flood risk to the system and offset any costs of future storm damage if the city is hit by another hurricane in the next three years. Sandy caused an estimated $4 to $5 billion in damages to MTA assets; as a result, insurance prices for MTA doubled. To finance protections from future storm surges, MTA issued $200 million in shares of catastrophe bonds to supplement traditional insurance, costing MTA $46 million a year.

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

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Chicago DOT - Sustainable Urban Infrastructure Policies and Guidelines

July 2013

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) issued these guidelines (“Guidelines”) to require the implementation of sustainability best practices (environmental and social) into all transportation infrastructure projects, with metrics to ensure that projects are designed to be resilient to the long-term impacts of climate change. The Guidelines include two components: Volume I outlines the city’s sustainability goals and the process for integrating those goals into urban infrastructure design, construction, and maintenance; Volume 2 provides specific strategies, references, and resources to help project managers and engineers incorporate sustainability principles into specific projects.

Related Organizations: Chicago Department of Transportation, City of Chicago, Illinois

Resource Category: Law and Governance

 

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Sea-Level Rise Tool for Hurricane Sandy Recovery

June 20, 2013

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) developed a tool that can assist communities affected by Hurricane Sandy in reducing vulnerability of transportation and other infrastructure to future sea-level rise and flood risk. The tool, which involves a set of maps showing floodplains under sea-level rise scenarios and an updated USACE Sea-Level Change calculator showing site-specific flood elevation data, helps communities understand the effects of sea-level rise on future flood risk and incorporate this information into planning and decision-making.

Related Organizations: Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Resource Category: Data and tools

 

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A Stronger, More Resilient New York - Transportation Chapter

June 11, 2013

“A Stronger, More Resilient New York” is an adaptation plan (Plan) for New York City (NYC), which contains actionable recommendations both for rebuilding the communities impacted by Hurricane Sandy and increasing the resilience of infrastructure and buildings citywide. Chapter 10 of the plan is dedicated to transportation impacts, strategies, initiatives, and policy recommendations. This chapter details the impacts that occurred to the transportation system as a result of Hurricane Sandy, impacts that can be anticipated in the future as a result of climate change, and strategies for increasing the resilience of NYC’s transportation system.

Related Organizations: New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC), New York City (NYC) Special Initiative of Rebuilding and Resiliency, City of New York, New York

Resource Category: Planning

 

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Fuel NY Initiative

June 1, 2013

In 2013, New York passed a law and launched the Fuel NY Initiative, to increase the number of gas stations along critical routes that will be able to operate during power outages caused by extreme weather events or other disasters. In conjunction with this law, Governor Cuomo announced the Fuel NY Initiative, which provides funding to help gas stations meet the new backup power requirements. The law and Initiative were developed in response to Hurricane Sandy, which illustrated the many challenges caused when most gas stations lost power as a result of the storm and were not able to operate fuel pumps to dispense fuel needed for emergency response and recovery efforts.

Related Organizations: State of New York

Resource Category: Law and Governance

 

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Alaska Repaving Roads Using Polystyrene Insulation

2013

The Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (ADOT&PF) is rebuilding portions of roads in the northern regions of the state using a thick layer of insulation under the pavement in order to help prevent the thaw of underlying permafrost caused by heat transfer. Thawing permafrost, exacerbated by increasing average annual temperatures and heat transfer from paved roads, has caused structural instability to roadway infrastructure and buildings in Alaska. Portions of Goldstream Road near Fairbanks and the Dalton Highway further north are both being replaced with insulation board to ensure thermal stability of the roads with increasing temperatures under climate change scenarios.

Related Organizations: Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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WSDOT Mukilteo Multimodal Ferry Terminal Environmental Impact Statement

June 2013

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) considered sea-level rise as a factor in early design and environmental review for the Mukilteo Multimodal Terminal Project (“Project”). The Project will develop a new terminal for the Mukilteo/Clinton Ferry, which provides transportation between Whidbey Island and the Seattle metropolitan area. In the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Project, WSDOT acknowledged that changing climate would impact the function and operations of Multimodal Project over the 50 to 100 year lifespan of the facility.

Related Organizations: Washington State Department of Transportation

Resource Category: Law and Governance

 

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Cape Cod Parking Lot Removal and Relocation

Several Cape Cod towns and the Cape Cod Commission have taken specific measures to adapt beach parking lots to the impacts of climate change, including extreme storms and sea-level rise that are causing increased beach erosion.    These coastal communities are rethinking “quick fix” repairs to vulnerable parking infrastructure and are instead implementing a variety of soft and hard measures as more permanent solutions to long-term climate change impacts.   Many of the town activities were captured in the adaptation blog “Great American Adaptation Road Trip” by Allie Goldstein and Kirsten Howard, graduates of the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment.

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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