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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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Washington State DOT (WSDOT) Guidance for Project-Level Climate Change Evaluation

January 2017 Update

The Washington State DOT (WSDOT) issued this guidance to assist the agency’s project planners in considering climate change impacts, which is required for all WSDOT projects subject to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Washington’s State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). In addition to obligations under NEPA and SEPA, WSDOT’s 2011-2017 Strategic Plan directs the agency to evaluate future climate-related risks and identify strategies to reduce risk. The guidance provides a standard process for analysis and template language to enable planning-level consideration of Washington’s projected climate impacts.

Related Organizations: Washington State Department of Transportation

Resource Category: Law and Governance

 

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FHWA's Risk-Based Asset Management Planning Rule

October 24, 2016

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issued this final rule to implement new planning requirements established by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) and the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST). MAP-21 and FAST require state departments of transportation (DOTs) to transition to performance-based decision-making, a large part of which is the development of a risk-based asset management plan. The new requirements are intended to ensure that federal transportation funding is spent more wisely, with specific performance targets in mind and in consideration of the likely costs to construct, operate, and maintain transportation assets over their full lifetime.

Related Organizations: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)

Resource Category: Law and Governance

 

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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: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Plan Hillsborough (Florida), Arizona Department of Transportation, California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT), Maine Department of Transportation, Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), California Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), Michigan Department of Transportation, Minnesota 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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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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California State Route 37 Stewardship Study

February 2016

The University of California Davis Road Ecology Center undertook a stewardship study to assess the risk to California State Route 37 (SR 37) from sea-level rise.  SR 37 passes near San Francisco Bay, connecting Interstate 80 and Highway 101.  The road corridor and surrounding wetlands are threatened by sea-level rise and flooding. The road bed sits below sea level at its lowest elevation and is likely to experience erosion, flooding during storms, and inundation due to sea-level rise. The State Road 37 Stewardship Study (Study) included a stakeholder process and technical analyses to determine possible future solutions to reduce the vulnerability of the highway to climate impacts.

Related Organizations: University of California, Davis, California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), Sonoma Ecology Center

Resource Category: Assessments

 

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New York’s Expanded USGS StreamStats Tool

December 2015

The U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) has developed a web-based application that operates in conjunction with the existing StreamStats application for New York State to incorporate projected precipitation changes under various 21st century climate change scenarios. This application will allow transportation planners and engineers to explore how climate change may affect high flows, which can assist with the design of over-water infrastructure (such as culverts and bridges) to accommodate these changes.

Related Organizations: New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) , U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

Resource Category: Data and tools

 

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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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FDOT Rebuild of Highway A1A in Fort Lauderdale

December 2015

After Hurricane Sandy washed out a segment of the state highway, the Florida Department of Transportation (“FDOT”) and the City of Fort Lauderdale rebuilt a portion of the A1A highway (“A1A”) to be more resilient to future impacts. The redesigned highway segment includes several different features that will increase the highway’s resilience to future flooding and erosion and will also make the city more walkable and bikeable:

Related Organizations: Florida Department of Transportation, City of Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge Restoration and Relocation Efforts

October 2015

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge (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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