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Potential Impacts of Climate Change on U.S. Transportation
sea levels or temperature changes. Every mode of transportation will be affected as climate change poses new and often unfamiliar challenges to infrastructure providers. The committee urges that the transportation community start now to confront these challenges.
A strong federal role is needed to implement many of the committee’s recommendations that require broad-based action or regulation, such as creation of a clearinghouse for information on transportation and climate change, the research program to reevaluate existing and develop new design standards for addressing climate change, creation of an interagency working group on adaptation, changes in federal regulations regarding long-range planning guidelines and infrastructure rehabilitation requirements, and reevaluation of the National Flood Insurance Program.
Many of the committee’s recommendations, however, need not await federal action. Local governments and private infrastructure providers can begin to identify critical infrastructure that is particularly vulnerable to climate change. Professional organizations can begin to amass examples of best practice, and planners and climate scientists at local universities and research institutes can begin to collaborate on the development of regional scenarios of likely transportation-related climate changes and the data needed to analyze their impacts. The most important step, however, is for transportation professionals to acknowledge that the time has come to confront the challenges posed by climate change and to incorporate the most current scientific knowledge into the planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of transportation systems.