Transportation System Resilience to Extreme Weather and Climate Change - Executives
Adaptation to Climate Change in Transportation Systems Management, Operations, and Maintenance
Printable Version [PDF, 947 KB]
Publication #: FHWA-HOP-15-024
Resilience: The ability to prepare for changing conditions and withstand, respond to, and recover rapidly from disruptions.
The ability of transportation agencies' to effectively manage, operate, and maintain a safe, reliable transportation system is being threatened by a changing climate. Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and intense due to climate change, and long-term climatological trends are slowly but inexorably changing how transportation systems need to be planned, designed, operated, and maintained. A "new normal" is evolving and State departments of transportation (DOTs) are turning their focus toward building resilience.
Climate change will necessitate adjustments by DOT transportation systems management and operations (TSMO) and maintenance programs to ensure the resilience of activities such as traffic monitoring and management, providing traveler information, traffic incident management, and maintenance management
Climate Change is a Business Risk
Climate change risks are not yet well-understood by TSMO and maintenance staff. Many agencies are observing changes, however. Agencies able to continually evolve practices with minimal interference to achieving their mission will be best positioned to execute a climate-sensitive approach to TSMO and maintenance. Additionally, TSMO and maintenance workers as well as DOT emergency responders with whom they coordinate are well aware that they will be the public face and the front-line of the response.
By understanding the risk and assessing the vulnerability of their operations, agencies can avoid being caught off-guard when a significant weather event threatens to overwhelm their capabilities.
Example Climate Change Impacts to TSMO and Maintenance Programs
What Actions Will Increase Resilience?
Adapting TSMO and maintenance programs is largely about improving capability rather than a major technology development and deployment initiative. Many TSMO and maintenance adaptations will be the "low-hanging fruit" to prepare DOTs for climate change, in contrast to necessary changes to infrastructure design. For example, many of the technology elements used to support safety, congestion mitigation, and traveler information objectives are already in place. To adapt to climate change, agencies need to consider how these existing capabilities that already help to improve operations and reliability need to evolve to meet the new and emerging requirements of a changing climate.
Examples of Strategies to Improve Today and Prepare for Tomorrow
The Climate Change Adaptation Guide for Transportation Systems Operations and Maintenance provides the rationale and specific guidance for integrating the capability for climate change adaptation and extreme weather response into TSMO and maintenance programs. It also articulates why doing so will lead to greater sustainability. The guide provides resources to help agencies:
For More Information
Download the FHWA Climate Change Adaptation Guide for Transportation Systems Management, Operations, and Maintenance at https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/fhwahop15026/index.htm.
United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration