State DOTs Practices for Response and Recovery from Extreme Weather Events
Extreme weather events present significant risks to the safety, reliability, and sustainability
of the nation’s transportation infrastructure. Developing strategic plans to
protect the highway infrastructure from these weather events are a top priority
for the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) and the US DOT. The Department
is also committed to increasing its effectiveness in ensuring that
infrastructure is resilient enough to withstand extreme weather events that
could otherwise disrupt the transportation network and require major
reconstruction. Specifically, the DOT expects recipients of Federal funds to
incorporate future operations and maintenance costs associated with a project’s
life-cycle into the planning and preparation of a project. Federal regulations
allow states to use Emergency Relief (ER) funds for the repair and
reconstruction to current design and construction standards. These standards
are continuously updated to reflect improvements and efficiencies in design and
construction practices, thereby improving the highway infrastructure
The Emergency Relief Program (ERP) administered by FHWA
provides funds for the repair and reconstruction of highways and roads that
have sustained serious damage from catastrophic failures or natural disasters,
including extreme weather events. In the past 5 years, Congress has
appropriated approximately $5.7 billion to the ERP. Due to the importance the
resilience plays in ensuring a safe and reliable transportation system, FHWA
has to provide guidance and processes for incorporating resilience improvements
into emergency relief projects to rebuild damaged highway infrastructure,
especially when caused by weather events.
As an example, flooding in urban areas, driven by both
precipitation and high tide events, can have a devastating effect on a region’s
transportation system and economic viability. The critical needs to identify
the magnitude of floods are to measure and model precipitation intensity with a
short lead time and relate to high tide events to plan proper protective
measures for and diversion from problem areas. A different approach may be
needed when a snowstorm affects an area as different resources are required to
coordinate the emergency response efforts.
To review and assess the state DOTs practices describing how
states are approaching climate adaptation (from the long or short term
perspective) and how states have responded to, or are prepared to respond to,
extreme weather events. Some of the aspects may include weather/climate-related
risks that agencies face, adjustments needed for approach/budgeting/activities
to address these risks, and sharing emergency response strategies to enable
quick and efficient recovery from extreme weather events.
As state DOTs begin to take more proactive action to prepare
for extreme weather events, additional information is needed regarding whether
and how to track costs associated with these events. In addition, state DOTs
need a robust and efficient damage evaluation framework to help them weigh the
costs and benefits of proactive strategies against the consequences of
inaction. Newly developed risk assessments have identified different types of
actions that can be taken to consider how changing climatic and extreme weather
conditions can be incorporated into agency decision making.
1) Identify and
assess uncertainties associated with expected climate changes in order to
consider changes in planning, design, construction, maintenance, and operations
practices today, and how to anticipate what might be needed in the future.
2) Verify if state
DOTs have or plan to develop long range goals, objectives, and strategies for
adapting to potential impacts from climate change.
3) Verify if and how
states incorporate climate change vulnerability assessment planning tools, policies,
and strategies into existing transportation and investment decisions (e.g.
regional and/or project planning, etc.)
4) Verify if states
express interest in sharing emergency response strategies to enable quick and
efficient recovery from extreme weather events especially post-event recovery
information on efforts.
5) Identify available
methods or processes that can be used (some may be currently used by other
states) to assess the vulnerability of critical infrastructure components
needing improvement toward future design/construction practices.
Develop and implement a process to identify best practices
for improving the resilience of emergency relief projects and share them with
State DOTs and local agencies. Implementation should consider various analysis
tools such as benefit-cost analysis and life cycle cost analysis that can be
used to assess the desirability of pursuing actions today that would prevent
damage during future extreme weather events. However, their use is based on
assumptions associated with frequency of event occurrence and likelihood of
High, given the recent weather related disasters in various states and the serious damages incurred by the national transportation network. Emergency relief projects should consider incorporating resilience features to reduce the risk of damage from future extreme events.
|Sponsoring Committee:||AKR40, Winter Maintenance
|Research Period:||24 - 36 months|
|RNS Developer:||Cristian Druta, Rhonda Young|
|Index Terms:||State departments of transportation, Weather conditions, Winter maintenance, Infrastructure, Flood damage, Floods, Snowstorms, |
|Cosponsoring Committees:||AKR50, Road Weather|
Maintenance and Preservation|
Security and Emergencies