Climate Resilience and Planning Peer Exchange: Atlanta Regional Commission
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Climate Resilience and Planning Peer Exchange: Atlanta Regional Commission

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    Atlanta, Georgia; October 4-5, 2016
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    This report summarizes a peer exchange on climate change resilience that was held October 4- 5, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia and hosted by the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC). The peer exchange was co-organized by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and ARC. The transportation sector plays an important role in addressing climate change both through reducing greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation) and addressing the impacts of climate change (adaptation). A concept closely related to adaptation is resilience, which FHWA defines as the ability to anticipate, prepare for, and adapt to changing conditions and withstand, respond to, and recover rapidly from disruptions.1 Climate adaptation and resilience are gaining momentum in the transportation sector as transportation agencies realize their infrastructure is vulnerable to the effects of climate change. In the last several years, FHWA has been supporting state and regional transportation agencies in climate change adaptation activities, especially in assessing vulnerability to climate change. Building off of these vulnerability assessments, transportation agencies are beginning to identify adaptation strategies and integrate climate change considerations into the transportation planning and project development processes. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which was signed into law on December 4, 2015, includes new requirements for state departments of transportation (DOTs) and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) to integrate resilience into the transportation planning process. Following the authorization of the FAST Act, FHWA and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) updated their planning regulations2 with a requirement that the metropolitan transportation plan assess capital investment and other strategies that reduce the vulnerability of the existing transportation infrastructure to natural disasters (23 CFR 450.324(f)(7)). In addition, the planning rule states that MPOs should coordinate with officials responsible for disaster risk reduction when developing a metropolitan transportation plan and the Transportation Improvement Program (23 CFR 450.316(b)). The updated planning final rule also added improving the resilience and reliability of the transportation system as a new planning factor for states and MPOs to consider and implement in the transportation planning process (23 CFR 450.206(a)(9) and 23 CFR 450.306(b)(9)). The purpose of this peer exchange was for staff from MPOs and state DOTs to learn from peers about best practices for integrating climate resilience into the planning process, including assessing risks, developing adaptation options, and prioritizing projects for implementation. It also provided an opportunity for stakeholders from the Atlanta area to connect with others in the region working on climate resilience. Finally, FHWA will be producing resources and information to help MPOs and state DOTs meet the FAST Act requirements related to integrating resilience into the planning process. The peer exchange allowed FHWA to gather information on what resources and information would be helpful for state DOTs and MPOs in developing strategies to address climate risks and meet the FAST Act requirements.
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