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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 Background." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Guidelines to Incorporate the Costs and Benefits of Adaptation Measures in Preparation for Extreme Weather Events and Climate Change. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25847.
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Page 9
Page 10
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 Background." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Guidelines to Incorporate the Costs and Benefits of Adaptation Measures in Preparation for Extreme Weather Events and Climate Change. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25847.
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Page 10

Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

4 Chapter 1 – Background The systems that transportation agencies manage and maintain are vital to social and economic growth; society depends on daily driving by more members of the population than ever to support both business and leisure activities. Recently, new laws, Executive Orders, and rules have been issued with the intent of making these systems and department of transportation (DOT) assets more reliable both now and in the future by focusing on asset management, state of good repair, and adapting to the impacts of climate change and extreme weather. Society’s increased reliance on transportation systems and recent federal requirements are placing additional demands on budgets and staff that are already stretched thin. Transportation practitioners need to understand what data and tools are available to help them make timely, informed decisions about the best use of limited resources to achieve desired results. Cost-benefit analysis (CBA) is one tool that decision makers can use when evaluating if and how to incorporate adaptation for climate change or extreme weather into the design of a transportation asset or system. This project seeks to understand the threats that climate change and extreme weather can pose to transportation assets; how decision makers are evaluating these threats and potential adaptation methods; and how adaptation methods under consideration can be evaluated for the costs and benefits of each so that cost-effectiveness can be incorporated into the capital asset investment decision-making process. Recognizing the resource constraints that transportation agencies are facing, the research has focused on leveraging available existing data, models, tools, and frameworks to develop scalable approaches to conducting CBAs, from basic analyses to more detailed ones at levels ranging from individual assets to corridors. As a part of this project, the research team developed a methodology and handbook for practitioners to conduct a simple CBA by hand or using a spreadsheet to evaluate the most cost-effective climate and extreme weather adaptation and response. The guidebook (published as NCHRP Research Report 938) has the potential to serve as:  A single resource that summarizes the current state of the practice for incorporating CBA into adaptation planning and analysis.  A source for identifying existing, relevant data and tools to support CBA for adaptation planning.  An intuitive guide for incorporating CBA into state and local transportation asset management and planning policies and procedures that incorporate climate change and extreme weather adaptation planning. Research Problem Statement Extreme weather events and a changing climate can result in significant costs to transportation agencies, to the traveling public, and to communities. State DOTs and other public infrastructure agencies are increasingly face difficult decisions about whether, when, and to what extent to incorporation adaptation measures into their existing and future facilities to provide more resilience in the event of extreme weather or in response to the evolving effects of climate change. Given the potential costs and benefits involved in enhancing the resilience of transportation systems, the decision to implement adaptation measures depends on a variety of factors.

5 This guidance will assist transportation decision makers in making informed and supportable decisions regarding their implementation of adaptation measures for extreme weather events and climate change. Greater public return on investment (ROI) will be realized from making better long-term decisions based on a more holistic analysis of the costs and benefits of implementing adaptation measures. This work is especially important at a time when transportation agencies are fiscally constrained and immediate corrective measures to transportation assets following extreme weather are usually above planned budget expenditures. Research is needed to assist in an understanding of the cost/benefit payoff of adaptation measures to allow for better decision making. Research Objective and Scope The objective of this research is to provide guidance that enables transportation decision makers to integrate analysis of the costs and benefits of adaptation measures in preparation for extreme weather events and climate change. The research was divided into two phases: Phase I included a review of existing literature, a preliminary survey, interviews, a gap analysis, and development of a proposed framework; Phase II included development of a cost-benefit analysis method that can be accomplished by hand, and preparation of a guidance document for practitioners. The end products were the CBA methodology and the guidance document prepared during Phase II. These will be used by local and state DOTs, and specifically by individuals involved with asset management and capital improvement plan and project development within these organizations. The outcomes of these efforts are presented in the chapters that follow.

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Cost-benefit analysis (CBA) is useful for climate change response and adaptation, and if used properly, it has great potential for long-range planning. CBA should help agencies navigate the spectrum of decisions from mitigation and greenhouse gas reduction to adaptation: where does investing public funds generate the most public good?

The TRB National Cooperative Highway Research Program's NCHRP Web-Only Document 271: Guidelines to Incorporate the Costs and Benefits of Adaptation Measures in Preparation for Extreme Weather Events and Climate Change is published as a companion document to NCHRP Research Report 938. It includes two frameworks that were developed for the project to allow practitioners to conduct CBAs to a level of detail they deem appropriate; a sketch-level analysis can serve as a screening tool to evaluate if adaptation is even appropriate, while a more detailed climate resilience analysis can help to answer the question, “How much can I spend on an adaptation project and have it remain cost-effective?”

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