Transportation System Resilience to Extreme Weather and Climate Change [Technical Staff]
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Transportation System Resilience to Extreme Weather and Climate Change [Technical Staff]

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    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 managers to ensure the resilience of activities such as traffic monitoring and management, providing traveler information, traffic incident management, and maintenance management. TSMO and maintenance functions at DOTs are often responsive to conditions as they arise. There are nevertheless some activities that, if done in advance, can enhance the resilience of the transportation system overall and with greater efficiency to the public agency than if actions had not been taken. Adapting TSMO and maintenance programs is largely about improving capability rather than a major technology development and deployment initiative. 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. The framework provided in this fact sheet gives an overview of how TSMO and maintenance managers can begin to take action through steps to: define the scope of adaptation efforts; assess vulnerabilities to inform the development of adaptation strategies; and integrate climate change into decision making. A checklist provides further detail on these steps. Additional information, including additional steps, sub-steps, and details, are found in the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) "Climate Change Adaptation Guide for Transportation Systems Management, Operations, and Maintenance."
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