The mission of many state DOTs has evolved beyond the traditional “highway department” to include protecting the quality of life of the people of a given state, and the integration of all travel modes to safely move people and goods. Resilience has come to mean more than the quick and cost-effective restoration of roads after a disaster. Acknowledging this, a new paper in Transportation Research Part D focuses on resilience in theory and practice, and explores a framework for the discussion of resilience within state DOTs and the development of resilience strategies.
The Vermont Agency of Transportation, along with a list of partners, has developed a planning tool to identify and prioritize parts of the transportation network most at risk of flooding, fluvial erosion, landslides, or other natural disasters. The need for a forward-looking approach to avoid or protect against roadway destruction, and keep people connected to needed resources, was illustrated in 2011 by the effects of Tropical Storm Irene. The Transportation Resilience Planning Tool was exhibited in a presentation at the 2019 SSTI State DOT Community of Practice meeting in Denver.
Where and how communities grow and build homes, transportation, and other infrastructure is likely not at the forefront of most disaster preparedness agencies’ agenda. Yet a community’s decisions about land use and transportation have significant impacts on how resilient it can be in the face of disasters. This document is intended to introduce and integrate land use and transportation issues into states’ conversations about resilience. Disaster preparedness professionals can use it to understand how strategic decisions about land use and transportation can build communities that are more resilient from the ground up.
According to the recently released draft report, climate change is now increasing the frequency and intensity of severe storms, flooding, droughts, and heat waves, as well as increasing sea level. Some communities prepared decades ago for hurricanes and other disasters, while others are still debating infrastructure changes that could protect their towns and cut down on future disaster recovery costs.