Extreme weather is creating a growing challenge for disaster managers and transportation planners. The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) recently completed a study sponsored in part by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to conduct an assessment of critical transportation assets in the state that are most vulnerable to plausible extreme weather events out to 2040. This vulnerability assessment required building an asset inventory, determining which of those assets should be considered critical, identifying various types of extreme weather events to which the critical assets may be exposed, and quantifying the potential asset damage and system disruption for the selected extreme weather event types and critical asset combinations. Combining this information then provided an overall vulnerability rating for the critical transportation assets in the state. The Tennessee study is unique in that it represents an inland region whose climate and topography expose the state to a variety of extreme weather events, and which are not dominated by concerns associated with sea level rise and storm surge. Moreover, all significant passenger and freight transport modes and support facilities were considered across a large region. As a result, the vulnerability assessment serves as an important screening tool to help stakeholders better understand where to focus their resources as they consider potential adaptation measures, and as a catalyst for facilitating a more proactive approach to building transportation resilience to extreme weather events. The methodology and tools developed in the study are also transferable to other regions attempting to better understand the vulnerabilities of their transportation infrastructure to climate change and extreme weather. This paper describes the study approach and findings, including a discussion of steps being taken to incorporate the study results into agency operations and planning.
Abkowitz, M., Jones, A., Dundon, L., & Camp, J. (2017). Performing A Regional Transportation Asset Extreme Weather Vulnerability Assessment. In Transportation Research Procedia (Vol. 25, pp. 4422–4437). Elsevier B.V. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trpro.2017.05.344