National Academies Press: OpenBook

Response to Extreme Weather Impacts on Transportation Systems (2014)

Chapter: CHAPTER FOUR Conclusions

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Page 83
Suggested Citation:"CHAPTER FOUR Conclusions." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2014. Response to Extreme Weather Impacts on Transportation Systems. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22376.
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Page 83
Page 84
Suggested Citation:"CHAPTER FOUR Conclusions." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2014. Response to Extreme Weather Impacts on Transportation Systems. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22376.
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Page 84

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83 CHAPTER FOUR CONCLUSIONS with National Guard and Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) support. • The quality of the information on the weather event and its projected impacts affects decisions on deploy- ing resources, assessing damage, and other critical matters. • Collecting data about the situation on the ground (including images and the location of damage) is a key activity often conducted in the aftermath of a cata- strophic event, making training in this area an impor- tant part of the maturity of extreme weather response. • States record response, recovery, and other relevant efforts in post-event reports, ranging from a focused review of the event to a more wide-ranging analysis. Coordination with localities (e.g., through long-term maintenance agreements or shared technologies) is critical and has benefits beyond the narrow purpose of the engagement. • Investments in training (e.g., in emergency manage- ment, federal program reimbursement, geographic information system, and other subjects) were a com- mon practice often cited as having facilitated response and recovery. • In policy and in practice, the federal and state gov- ernments are developing ways to address new and increased extreme weather events in transportation investments. Findings Related to a Obtaining a Unified, Accessible Knowledge Base in This Area The case examples show that data and Knowledge Manage- ment practices support responses to extreme weather events impacting transportation. These practices include: • Researching and recording information and key issues on severe weather conditions • Utilizing geospatial data to identify at-risk sites and safe locations • Facilitating the use of tools and processes that aid col- laboration on weather events as they occur • Sharing information through online platforms, such as SharePoint and WebEOC, to enable a quick response • Developing After Action Reports and other records of effective practices and lessons learned from extreme weather events The objective of this Synthesis Report is to identify common and recurring themes in state-level responses to extreme weather events impacting transportation and to contribute to the development of a unified, accessible knowledge base on this topic. Chapter one provides background on the importance of examining extreme weather impacts on the transportation sector and how Knowledge Management approaches can help state DOTs to identify and assess practices appropriate to their circumstances. It was observed that investment deci- sions rely on good data, and collecting information on state DOT responses to extreme weather events complements efforts to prepare for the range of climate changes projected for the future and their anticipated impacts on transportation. The case examples in chapter two provide narratives of extreme weather events from the past decade, organize activities related to these extreme weather events by com- mon state DOT functions, and summarize lessons learned and related practices. Chapter three’s synthesis of information from the eight case examples highlights themes that are the basis for the findings and suggestions for research that follow. FINDINGS Findings Related to State-level Responses to Extreme Weather Events Impacting Transportation The case examples suggest some broad, thematic elements to state DOT responses to extreme weather events: • Emergency management processes are a common ele- ment of state DOT activities before, during, and imme- diately after an extreme weather event. • Reimbursement from federal programs drives many state practices. • States reached out to the FHWA almost immediately during many extreme weather events, and this early knowledge and participation in state activities facili- tated federal decisions on financial reimbursement. • Interagency coordination is important to the efficient allocation of tasks and resources, including activities

84 • Engaging in meetings, workshops, and other struc- tured activities to share and document knowledge in preparation for future similar events • Developing succession planning and record retention strategies to retain knowledge • Developing maintenance management systems that address newer weather risks • Acquiring or developing the data sets and other aspects of an information base to facilitate analysis of invest- ments in preparedness and resiliency. SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH The following research would support state department of transportation (DOT) efforts to address extreme weather impacts: 1. Research ways to increase state DOT technical exper- tise to complement and supplement federal weather forecasting at the local, regional, and national levels. 2. Identify technologies, training, and standards in Knowledge Management that can support informed decision making and coordination within state DOTs and with external partners, given the increased risk of extreme weather events. 3. Collect a common set of information from states that experienced the same extreme weather event to learn about differences before, during, and after the event as well as the lessons learned, identified by each state. 4. For each state, identify the extreme weather events projected to occur with more frequency or intensity in the future, develop a framework for an organized response, and collect a standard set of information and materials on previous events of a similar nature. 5. Conduct research and synthesis of EMAC case exam- ples to surface effective practices in the transporta- tion sector under extreme weather events. 6. Conduct research on the disposition of state applica- tions to FHWA and FEMA following extreme weather events and create a body of knowledge for reference and use in similar cases. 7. Research current design and engineering practices at the state level and their relationship to provisions of the FEMA Public Assistance manual and the FHWA Emer- gency Relief manual provisions, before and after updates. 8. Research emerging practices in transportation sector investments under the projected increases in extreme weather events, and related policies. 9. Research tools for identifying benefits and costs and the return on investment in extreme weather pre- paredness, resiliency, and adaptation strategies. State DOT responses to extreme weather impacts con- tinue well beyond the immediate management of an extreme weather event, which experience shows can occur at unex- pected and near-biblical scales. Every state interviewed is conducting reviews and assessments, seeking out new sources of information and expertise, and adapting their people, programs, and processes to extreme weather risks. This Synthesis Report is intended to support those and simi- lar efforts.

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TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Synthesis 454: Response to Extreme Weather Impacts on Transportation Systems examines eight recent cases of extreme weather in the United States from the perspectives of transportation operations, maintenance, design, construction, planning, communications, interagency coordination, and data and knowledge management.

Appendices C-H are only available in the PDF version of the report.

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