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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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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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Caltrans - Addressing Climate Change Adaptation in Regional Transportation Plans: A Guide for California MPOs and RTPAs

February 2013

This guide is intended to be a resource to support metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) and regional transportation planning agencies (RTPAs) in incorporating climate change impacts into their decision-making and planning processes. The guide helps MPOs and RTPAs with assessing risks to transportation assets from different climate stressors, inventorying assets, assessing the vulnerability of assets, and incorporating climate change into long-range planning and investment decisions. To facilitate these processes, the guide includes: background information on climate adaptation, recommended data and information to assist in incorporating climate considerations into regional planning, and a step-by-step process for integrating climate risks into plans.

Related Organizations: California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)

Resource Category: Planning

 

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Caltrans Devil’s Slide Realignment Project

2013

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) invested in an expensive relocation of the Devil’s Slide segment of Highway 1, a coastal highway linking Half Moon Bay and San Francisco in San Mateo County. The segment was repeatedly closed due to damage from rockslides and erosion. The state decided to relocate the road at additional up-front expense (approximately $342 million) to avoid the long-term maintenance costs of rebuilding the road repeatedly in its existing location. Although not specifically implemented in response to climate change, this project provides an example of how realignment may present a cost effective strategy for adapting transportation assets in the face of mounting maintenance costs from repeated damage due to climate-related events.

Related Organizations: California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Caltrans Guidance on Incorporating Sea Level Rise - for use in the planning and development of Project Initiation Documents

May 16, 2011

This guidance document was developed by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) pursuant to Executive Order S-13-08, issued by then Governor Schwarzenegger in November 2008. It provides guidance to Caltrans staff Project Development Teams on how to assess the vulnerability of transportation projects to sea-level rise (SLR) impacts and incorporate adaptation into the programming and design of vulnerable projects. 

Related Organizations: California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)

Resource Category: Law and Governance

 

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Caltrans Water Conservation Measures in Highway Landscaping

2014

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is using a variety of new materials and techniques to address drought conditions by reducing or eliminating water use on roadside landscaping.   New roadside landscaping projects may utilize recycled water, native grasses and plants that require little or no watering, innovative water collection techniques, and smart irrigation controls. Caltrans’ new water conservation efforts are designed to help meet or exceed state water use reduction goals and address growing water scarcity.

Related Organizations: California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Cape Cod (Massachusetts) Interagency Transportation, Land Use, and Climate Change Pilot Project

March 2012

This report describes a pilot project in Cape Cod, Massachusetts initiated by the federal Interagency Working Group on Transportation, Land Use and Climate Change for the purpose of developing and testing a framework for assessing the effects of sea level rise (SLR) on land- use and transportation infrastructure, and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from transportation sources. The goal of the project was to create a replicable process for other regions to follow for using scenario planning to consider climate change in transportation and land-use plans, and for coordinating across agencies and integrating agency planning processes.

Related Organizations: John A. Volpe National Transportation System Center, Cape Cod Commission

Resource Category: Planning

 

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Cape Cod Commission’s Adaptation Planning Activities for the Regional Transportation System

July 2015

The Cape Cod Commission (“Commission”) has begun to systematically consider the long-range impacts of climate change as it works to guide regional transportation- and development-planning efforts for an iconic but vulnerable area of coastal Massachusetts. The Commission is responsible for directing regional land-use policy, regulating developments whose impacts cross town boundaries, and supporting the 15 Cape Cod municipalities that make up Barnstable County with planning and technical expertise.

Related Organizations: Cape Cod Commission

Resource Category: Planning

 

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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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Capitol Corridor (CA) Sea-Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment and 2014 Vision Plan Update

November 19, 2014

The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) conducted a sea-level rise vulnerability assessment for the corridor’s rail assets and is incorporating those findings into the agency’s Vision Plan, identifying sea-level rise as a critical issue in long-term planning and investments. The Capitol Corridor, which is managed but not owned by the CCJPA, serves as the primary public transportation connection between the Sacramento metropolitan area and the San Francisco Bay Area. Large stretches of the corridor run along waterfronts and through marshlands and other areas that will be increasingly vulnerable to inundation and flooding during storm events as sea levels rise.

Related Organizations: Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority

Resource Category: Planning

 

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Charles River Watershed Association Green Infrastructure Demonstration Projects

The Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA), through its “Blue Cities Initiative,” develops demonstration projects that feature green infrastructure along streets and in other public and private spaces, with the goal of managing increases in precipitation caused by climate change. More frequent and intense rainfall events will increase the risks of flooding, sewer overflows, and water pollution in the Northeast. CRWA has implemented demonstration projects in the Boston metropolitan area to illustrate and assess the effectiveness of different green stormwater management techniques, including permeable pavements and roadside vegetation, and to encourage replication of these strategies in other areas.

Related Organizations: Charles River Watershed Association, City of Boston, Massachusetts, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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