patterns, and in turn, population growth and economic development stimulate demand for new infrastructure facilities to support growth. In both cases, decisions made today about where to locate or expand transportation infrastructure establish development patterns that persist for generations and are difficult to change. These decisions should be weighed carefully to ensure that people and businesses are not placed in harm’s way as projected climate changes unfold.

Following discussion of these topics, the chapter turns to many cross-cutting issues—flood insurance; monitoring technologies and new materials; data, models, and decision support tools; and new partnerships and organizational arrangements—that can help facilitate adaptation to climate change or bring climate change issues into the decision-making process. The chapter ends with the committee’s findings.


Annexes 5-1A through 5-1C summarize a wide range of adaptation measures that can be used to address many of the climate change impacts discussed in Chapter 3 (see Annex 3-1). Potential adaptations are identified for land, marine, and air transportation, respectively, by response category: (a) changes in operations, (b) changes in infrastructure design and materials, and (c) other. No attempt is made to estimate the relative costs or effectiveness of these measures, although such analyses would be necessary to evaluate specific infrastructure investment alternatives. The remainder of this section addresses the key issues and opportunities for adaptation in each response category.

Operational Responses

The most rapid response to the impacts of climate change is likely to come through changes in transportation operating and maintenance practices.1 Every U.S. transportation provider already experiences the adverse impacts of weather on operations under a diverse range of climate conditions. For example, approximately 75 percent of air travel delays in the National Airspace System are weather related (L. Maurice and M. Gupta, presentation to the committee, Jan. 4, 2007). Slick pavement and adverse weather


This section draws heavily on the paper by Lockwood (2006) commissioned for this study.

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