Browse Projects > Detailed View

Compilation of Case Studies that Incorporate Local Environment Attributes into the Planning and Design of Navigation Infrastructure Projects


There has been growing interest in how existing natural elements can be incorporated into marine infrastructural initiatives to create added value to these projects. For example, expanding aquatic habitats such as wetlands and mangroves can provide protection for near shore navigational infrastructure from severe storm events related to climate change. Incorporating local environmental elements into maritime infrastructural projects often provide for sustainable designs that require little on-going maintenance activities, which can reduce both cost and GHG emissions. It has been recognized that an important barrier to implementing these techniques is the lack of knowledge about these approaches. This project is to compile available case studies into a central database that users can access to search for relevant projects that can be implemented in other locations. It is also envisioned that the database will be a “living” resource where others can submit additional examples.


Having compelling examples that highlight the inclusion of ecological elements into a project design can provide engineers and planners with a wider spectrum of options and inform communities and nongovernmental organizations about viable alternatives. The objective of this project is to compile these case studies into a central database. The compiled case studies could include, but should not be limited to:

· Development of sustainable dredging operations;

· Seabed landscaping for sustainable sand mining;

· Siting of new ports, harbors, and navigation channels; and

· Creation of environmentally friendly jetties for the protection of marinas and harbors.

These case studies should be selected based on their applicability to other similar locations. The case studies should include but not be limited to information about:

· Who implemented the project (agency and contract person);

· Impacted stakeholders;

· Location of the project;

· Infrastructure being developed;

· Environmental concern being addressed;

· Solution agreed upon;

· Duration and cost of the project; and

· Full reference.


Solutions to marine infrastructure concerns that are based on existing natural attributes or processes are often more stable and less costly in the long run. Being able to easily identify appropriate projects that can be matched to new or proposed projects can help disseminate this knowledge to engineers, planners and community members.

Related Research:

Existing research regarding the integration of local environmental attributes into marine infrastructure projects has been developed by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, The World Association for Waterborne Transportation Infrastructure as well as vendors and marine engineering design consultants.


This project is to develop a “living” database of case studies of maritime infrastructural projects that incorporate the local environment into the design and implementation. This projection will need to be implemented in two phases:

Phase 1 Data collection

· Identify and compile case studies of examples where environmental attributes were incorporated into a local navigation infrastructure project.

_ _

_Phase 2 Database development _

· Develop a database structure that allows users the ability to easily search for case studies based on a set of parameters of interest which could include those noted above;

· Populate the database with compiled case studies (a good starting point would be examples identified by PIANC in their latest publications);

· Test the populated database, including:

o Search functionality;

o Ability to download search results;

o Stability on different versions of Access;

o Ease of adding new case studies to the database; and

o Possible security issues.

· Update database based on comments received from the testers;

· Post the database on a public website;

· Allow users to submit additional case studies, which will be stored in a temporary file awaiting review; and

· Review all new case studies periodically before updating the database.


Being able to easily search a compendium of case studies that includes the latest projects would be of considerable value to port authorities, engineering consultants, regional planners and nongovernmental organizations. As such, it makes sense that this project could be implemented by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. DOT Maritime Administration, academic institutes or trade associations.

TRB could also play an important role in promoting this initiative, including the involvement of the Port & Channels Committee, Inland Waterway Committee, Ecology and Transportation Committee, and Transportation and Sustainability Committee.


As the global economy continues to grow and the need for climate change adaption increases, it is necessary to develop new infrastructures that meets these new needs. Smart marine infrastructure projects will have to be developed that take into consideration the existing environmental attributes that are complementary to the proposed infrastructure. It is hoped that increasing our knowledge base of these options will facilitate their applications. The creation of a database that includes supporting case studies should help address the knowledge gap related to these techniques.

Sponsoring Committee:AW030, Marine Environment
Research Period:12 - 24 months
Research Priority:Medium
RNS Developer:Ellen Johnck and Richard Billings
Source Info:PIANC Guide for Applying Working with Nature to Navigation Infrastructure Projects, EnviCom WG Report N 17602918.
Date Posted:07/10/2019
Date Modified:07/26/2019
Index Terms:Case studies, Context sensitive design, Environmental design, Environment, Navigation devices, Infrastructure,
Marine Transportation
Planning and Forecasting

Please click here if you wish to share information or are aware of any research underway that addresses issues in this research needs statement. The information may be helpful to the sponsoring committee in keeping the statement up-to-date.