Climate Change Adaptation and Transportation System by MikeJenny


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									          Climate Change Adaptation and Transportation System

The Department of Transportation recommends proactive steps to assess vulnerability of
the transportation system to climate variations and provide guidance on how adaptation
issues can be considered in the transportation investment decision- making.

Purpose of the Document
The objectives of this report are to provide preliminary assessment of the vulnerability of
the State transportation system to a set of climate scenarios of greatest relevance and to
explain the relationship between climate forces and transportation. The intent is to
explore how adaptation issues might be considered in transportation planning, project
development, operations and maintenance and what are the parameters and technical
requirements to support feasible and effective risk management responses. The report
will serve as a resource for professionals involved in transportation decision- making

Guiding Principles
    Promote public safety and operational efficiency of the transportation system.
    Promote resilient and robust transportation infrastructure.
    Promote continued economic growth of the State within the context of
      environmental stewardship.
    Maintain investment critical to safety, maintenance and operational improvements
      of the system and economy of the state.

California’s Future Climate of Greatest Relevance to Transportation

Climate scientists have predicted a number of climate scenarios with magnitude and
probability of occurrences in California during this century. This report focuses on three
anticipated climate changes of particular significance to the transportation system.

         1) Sea Level Rise and Storm Surge with virtual certainty or 99% probability of
         2) Increase Frequency and Severity of Hot Days and Heat Waves with 90%
            probability of occurrence, and
         3) Changes in the precipitation event with undefined timing, intensity, and
            variability of Precipitation.

Method of Analysis

The vulnerability of transportation is a function of the nature, magnitud e, and rate of
climate variation to which a facility is exposed such as those stated above, its sensitivity,
and adaptive capacity. Adaptation measures are designed to protect or enhance resiliency
of the facility to actual or expected climatic effects.

                          Conceptual Framework
                Climate Impact and Transportation Sensitivity

         Climate Forcing                               Types of Stress
         Sea Level Rise                                Inundation, erosion, tidal
                                                       surges, wave run-up
         Precip itation
         Warming Temperature                        Increase hot days,
                                                    reduce cold days,
                 Define at-risk Geographic Areas per Climate Scenarios

            Planning,                Operations                  Demand
            design,                  Safety                      Location
            construction,            Efficiency                   Timing
            maintenance              Environmental               Mode (s)

           Assess Vu lnerability of Modes, Impact on Operations or Demand
                      Priorit ize St ructures by High Strategic Value

                     Assess Sensitivity by facility, section or function

                                Define Adaptive Options
                   Perform Cost Benefit Analysis of Adaptive responses
                               Define Sources of Funding

                          Incorporate most feasible Option into System
                                Planning, PIDS, Programming s

Potential Impacts of Climate Change on Transportation

The anticipated regional or microclimate changes in California will have variable impacts
on the economy, environment, and transportation infrastructure and operations due to
increased temperatures, sea level rise, and changes in the timing, intensity, and variability
of precipitation.

Significant impact anticipated on the regional and state economy, emergency services due
to disruption of transportation operations.

The degree of vulnerability or risks for transportation infrastructure depends on regional
and local characteristics both natural and developed as well as location, types and
function of transportation facilities or assets.

Impacts may include flooding of tunnels, coastal highways, runways, and railways;
buckling of highways and railroad tracks, submersion of dock facilities, and shift in
demand for transportation. Such prospects could have strategic security as well as
transportation implications.

They require transportation agencies to recognize the prospect of climate change and
have proper organizational structure and tools for assessing risks and economic costs, and
develop response strategies that satisfy climate change concerns.

1)       1. Sea level Rise and Storm Surge – California has over 1,100 miles of coastline
with major attraction for economic activities, tourism and recreation. This corridor
includes major population centers with significant transportation infrastructure and
lifeline routes. Coastal development and transportation facilities as well as utility
services could be threatened if located in at-risk areas with likely increase in the costs of
climate change impacts and adaptation.

2)     Warming Trend - Extreme Heat and Cold – California’s climate is expected to
become warmer during this century depending on different heat-trapping emission
scenarios with variable regional impacts.

As a result, in regions with warmer temperatures particularly in summer, pavement
softening and buckling (especially in older, joined concrete), traffic-related rutting, and
flushing or bleeding of asphalt from older pavements might become more common,
leading to increased maintenance costs and safety concerns. The expected service life of
bridges or port facilities may be reduced requiring more frequent maintenance due to
heat-cold, freeze-thaw cycles and in extreme cases may force retrofitting or expensive

Railway track is also subject to buckling from extreme heat posing sa fety concerns and
increased maintenance, although cold temperatures and winter conditions are responsible
for significant portion of track, switch, and rail car damage

3)     Precipitation, Run off Sensitivities – California is expected to retain its
Mediterranean climate, wherein most of annual precipitation falls in the cooler part of the
year between November and March, with relatively cool and wet winters and hot dry
summers with a large amount of variability which suggests that region will remain
vulnerable to drought. It appears that the impact of the precipitation scenario will be
moderate, but significant regional variations are expected.

The increased chances of flooding in the winter and spring months may put some rural
roadways at-risk with additional restrictions in transportation system capacity and
economic implications.

Potential changes in the timing, intensity, magnitude, and variability of precipitation
could lead to triggering more rock and snow slides and slope failures that could result in

 considerable number of disruption and delays, damage road and rail infrastructure, and
 force greater levels of maintenance. The impact may result in different types of slope
 failure and rock slides.

 Precipitation and moisture are also important factors that contribute to the weathering of
 transportation infrastructure. Premature deterioration of bridges, parking garages and
 other concrete structures may be magnified where climate change induces more frequent
 precipitation events.

                Climate Adaptation and Transportation Decision Making

 In order to prepare for projected impacts, climate variability, mitigations, and adaptation
 strategies need to be considered in transportation investment decisions, changing the way
 we plan, build, and operate.

 Transportation investments are the result of a structured decision- making process,
 designed to ensure that limited funding is directed to transportation projects that
 maximize mobility and safety benefits while minimizing negative impacts.

             Integrating Climate Change into Transportation Investment Decisions
                            (Entry Points for Adaptation Strategies)

                              Ad vanced
Statewide       Regional      Planning/       Environ-        Design       Mainte-         Agency
policy and        level       pro-            mental                       nance           operation
 strategic      planning      grammig         Impact                                       s
 planning                                     analysis

                           Climate Action Plan and Economic Analysis

 This requires a new and interdisciplinary approach with proper organizational structure
 and tools to integrate complex technical and scientific analysis with complex planning,
 environmental and engineering disciplines across divisions and functions
 (institutionalizing climate change into the Department business operations).

 The following are the major transportation programs and activities that climate change
 and adaptation strategies will be addressed:
     1.     Climate Action Plan:
          Develop focused background information, technical analysis and guiding
            principles on both GHG reduction strategies and adaptation responses to
            climatic impacts.

         Develop strategic priority criteria, vulnerability assessment of transportation
          system(s), sensitivity analysis, potential risks, possible responses and costs,
          and evaluation of tradeoffs at the state and regional level.
         Assess to what extent current assumptions and practices leave our
          transportation infrastructure vulnerable to climate change and what are
          economic consequences and cost-benefit trade offs of action vs. inaction.

             Economic and Financial Assessment
             Information on economic costs and benefits of adaptation is critical to
              ensuring cost-effective and proportionate adaptive responses to justify
              investing scarce resources today to mitigate or avoid potential impacts to
              the system decades from now.
             The challenge: despite current investment level, California is falling far
              short of what is needed to preserve the transportation system in its current
              state, and considerable increase in funding will be required as we move
             Information on the cost of impacts and cost of alternative adaptive
              measures will help design and implement appropriate and proportionate
              risk management and adaptation strategies.
             Given limited funding sources and transportation needs, it is important to
              find ways to avoid compromising short-term system efficiency and
              mobility objectives over long term adaptation projects such as increased
              costs of maintenance, retrofitting, redesign, rebuilding, or relocation.
             Adaptation strategies would need to be financed through new sources of
              funding and partnership between overlapping jurisdictio ns (federal, state,
              regional and local).
             There are a range of micro (project specific) - and macroeconomic
              (regional or statewide) costs that need to be estimated in the process of
              evaluating adaptation options: 1) cost of damage to the infrastructure
              according to a defined scenario, 2) cost of alternative adaptation options
              (i.e., repair, retrofit, relocate or do nothing: maintain and retire the
              structure), 3) cost to the economy as a result of disruption to transportation
              operations (direct and indirect), 4) cost of delaying or redirecting
              programmed capital projects (if applied). Then, calculate benefits of
              adaptation options to transportation system and the economy, define
              tradeoffs, and select alternative course of action.

2.       Transportation Planning
         The information in the climate action plan concerning vulnerability and
          sensitivity assessment, risk management, and economic analysis should be
          applied at early stages of strategic level planning and continue to move
          through system and regional planning where long term priorities are set and
          then carry these priorities forward into subsequent decision making steps such
          as advance planning and programming, environmental, design, operations, and

        System planning and regional planning: Include discussion and consideration
         of climate change and adaptation issues.

3.    Advance Planning and Programming
      Provide opportunities to prioritize capital improvements relative to the
       vulnerability and sensitivity of the transportation system to climate cha nge.
      Allow consideration of impacts of individual transportation projects on
       climate change and the reverse - how those projects may be impacted by
       changing climate.

4.    Design and Engineering
      Transportation infrastructure, whether new or existing, ma y require
       redesigning or retrofitting to reduce the potential effect of sea level rise,
       extreme temperatures and potential changes in timing, intensity, and
       variability of precipitation.
      Although current design standards are extremely robust, they need to be
       evaluated in light of the new generation of environmental/climate change
       factors to determine whether infrastructure components are adequate to
       withstand climate forces that are beyond environmental factors currently
       considered in the design process.
      The climate impact scenarios should, however, stay within the range where
       the future remains the most probable and consensus can be reasonably
       established, rather than focusing on the most extreme events such as dramatic
       sea level changes. This would minimize the debate from different
       perspectives about how to factor in the need for scientific certainty/or
      Develop scenarios and mitigating measures around regional climate changes
       that are already impacting or can result from periodic severe weather patterns
       regardless of their fundamental cause, but may also be recognized as
       symptomatic of major changes to come in future weather patterns.
      Begin developing technical requirements and procedures necessary to
       incorporate climate change into the transportation and land use agency
       business decisions.

5.   Environmental
 Recommend new procedures for addressing climate change and adaptation in
   NEPA and CEQA to advance environmental stewardship.
 Predicted climate scenarios may affect resource areas such as land use, biological
   resources, biodiversity, water resources, and socioeconomic conditions and
 There are many outstanding questions about what steps environmental programs
   within transportation agencies need to take in order to deal with climate change

6. Maintenance
 The effect of climate change will likely increase the cost of maintenance of
   transportation system further constraining transportation budgets and investment
 At the same time adaptation strategies are essential to reduce potentially much
   larger costs in the future.
 Balancing these two costs requires greater precision in climate scenarios and cost
   benefit analysis, particularly magnitude, frequency, timing and rate of climate

7.   Transportation Ope rations
 Increase in frequency of precipitation, storms, extreme events and wave run- up
   could disrupt system operations and services and the safety of transportation.
 Highway capacity and through put is notably reduced during storm or rain,
   lowering speed and impeding mobility.
 Information systems such as advisory, control, and treatment strategies are used to
   improve efficiency of the roadway network and mitigate environmental impacts
   on traffic operations.
 Information on climatic events can be integrated with Intelligent Transportation
   Systems (ITS) to address transportation challenges.
 There is a need for development and deployment of information technologies so
   that safety, mobility and emergency services will be maximized under potentially
   more weather related events given projected climate scenarios.
 The national and state ITS Architecture should be enhanced to satisfy climate
   change and adaptation factors.

8.    Research
 The scientific community warns about significant consequences of c limate change
   if nothing is done.
 While the cost of inaction could be extremely high, the costs of misdirected action
   could also have unintended consequences.
 There has been very limited research on climate- induced impacts on the state’s
   transportation system and policy and technical guidance are not yet in place.
 This report attempts to frame climate change adaptation and provides initial
   assessment and guidance on how to address these issues in transportation
   investment decisions.
 Improving our understanding of the scale of climate change effects, rate of
   change, anticipated impacts, and identifying potential responses needs to be the
   subject of an ongoing, coordinated research program in California.
 Climate adaptation is beginning to enter strategic planning in State agencies.
 The Resources Agency recently initiated a long-range planning effort for climate
   change adaptation.
 The Climate Action Team is developing a road map for climate change research.

   The Department is advancing applied research on climate change (mitigation and
    adaptation) and how these issues can be considered in transportation decision
   A comprehensive applied research is needed to design the most appropriate
    method of economic analysis and adaptive strategies to rationally address
    increasingly complex multi- sector issues.

9.   Regional Equity and Environmental Justice
 Certain regions are expected to be impacted more than other regions. There are
   regions, at least in short term, that may benefit from climate change.
 Need to assess how equitably climate impacts can be addressed without
   undermining resource distribution for other regions.
 Need to assess climate implications and responses for low income and minority

10. A Collaborative Approach to Climate Change and Adaptation
 Transportation is a consortium of federal, state, local and regional agencies and
   the private sector governed by conglomerate of federal and state laws with
   overlapping jurisdictions.
 This arrangement is further complicated by modally-specific organizations and
   division of authority between land use and transportation at the regional and state
 Its present shape is a result of federal and state regulations as well as a legacy of
   procedural and institutional relationships.
 Climate laws and regulations are beginning to shape transportation and land use
   processes in California.
 Need for defined role or guidance for state agencies in climate adaptation.
 Coordination between stakeholders who may have different expectations
   concerning “how” and potential for conflict of opinion. i.e., There are 26 cities
   and 9 counties directly in the San Francisco Bay Area. They will have to work
   with the state and federal agencies, environmental and Community groups and
   somehow come up with an adaptation plan and pay for it.
 Where local facilities are linked to the state infrastructure, the state agencies’
   actions alone may not be adequate or may not proceed without coordination with
   local/regional agencies.
 If there are no uniform requirements for state and non-state projects, it may create
   a dual process where some projects in the same at-risk area may go forward
   without addressing adaptation issues (i.e., S LR) while state projects would be
   required to comply.


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