Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
Streetsblog

The Effect of Climate Change on Transpo Infrastructure

A sobering post today from the Streetsblog Network on the importance of preparing our transportation system for the effects of climate change. Megan McConville at The City Fix reports on a panel titled "Perspectives on Adaptation to Climate Change," hosted by the Engineers Forum on Sustainability.

The message? "We can no longer focus exclusively on avoiding the unmanageable, but must begin managing the unavoidable."

McConville writes:

Dr. George Eads of Charles River Associates discussed four impacts of climate change that will affect our nation’s transportation infrastructure:

  1. Sea levels will rise, jeopardizing coastal roadways, railways, airports and transit systems.
  2. An increase in the number of hot days and heat waves will influence
    how infrastructure withstands high temperatures.  For example, highways
    could experience increased rutting (the carving of deep grooves by
    traffic) due to softer asphalt.
  3. A greater number of intense precipitation events could cause added
    transportation disruptions, as could more frequent strong hurricanes.
  4. Finally, rising arctic temperatures could threaten ice roads and highways built on permafrost in Alaska.

Transportation professionals must act today to minimize disruptions
to the nation’s transportation systems tomorrow.  First, climate change
must be incorporated into decision frameworks.  Federal, state, and
local governments, in collaboration with owners and operators of
infrastructure, should inventory critical infrastructure, particularly
in vulnerable coastal areas.  When making investment decisions,
governments and private infrastructure providers should consider
climate change adaptation in their long-term capital improvement plans,
facility designs, maintenance practices, operations, and emergency
response plans.  They should apply risk-based investment analyses that
weigh the costs of adapting infrastructure against the costs of failure.

It's good to know that at least some engineers out there are thinking about these things. But how long will it take this awareness to make it to the local DOT level?

More cheery news from the network: Copenhagenize links to some great videos about the Bike Church of Asbury Park, New Jersey (originally at WalkBike Jersey, we missed it the first time around). Bike Friendly Oak Cliff has a photo of some innovative bike parking at a local tavern. And DC Bicycle Transportation Examiner has pictures of one possible solution to the bike-rail connection problem.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Bike Rack Saves Pedestrians in Crash on Busy Brooklyn Street

The white Hyundai involved in the crash has been nabbed 10 times by city speed- and red-light cameras since Oct. 10, 2023, city records show.

July 22, 2024

Map: How Did Community Boards Vote on ‘City of Yes’ Housing Plan

With most of the community board recommendations in, Streetsblog mapped where residents are saying "yes" to more housing and less parking.

July 22, 2024

What a Surprise! Hochul’s Congestion Pricing Pause Helps Rich Suburban Drivers

Gov. Hochul's "little guys" certainly have big wallets. Meanwhile, the rest of us suffer with declining subway service and buses that are slower than walking. Thanks, Kathy.

July 22, 2024

Monday’s Headlines: Congestion Kamala Edition

My guess is that everyone is going to be talking about President Harris today, but don't blow off the livable streets news, which overlaps.

July 22, 2024

Friday’s Headlines: Hochul’s Fantasy World Edition

The governor has gone off the deep end. Plus other news.

July 19, 2024
See all posts