National Academies Press: OpenBook

Resilience Primer for Transportation Executives (2021)

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Suggested Citation:"TABLE OF CONTENTS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Resilience Primer for Transportation Executives. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26195.
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The CEO Role in Resilience 5   Promote the Importance of Resilience Relate resilience to the agency’s mission statement. Each transportation agency has its own mission statement, but all missions involve safety and customer service. Adding resilience to these two common characteristics gives the mission a three-legged-stool balance that should be the foundation of evaluating the agency. Be sure there are performance measures tied to resilience in the strategic plan. Be prepared to explain why we have to think about these things and how being resilient will make a difference to the agency and to the state. You must be the advocate for resilience to the governor, the state commission, and the legislature. It is important that they understand the potential risks and consequences of various types of events or threats, the potential impacts on the transportation system that are likely to occur, and what can be done to reduce losses, improve safety, and minimize the impacts of events. Be Actively Engaged in Resilience Efforts Know the most likely things that could happen and what is going to be affected. You need to be alert and forward looking to new realities and threats while being creative and fostering an environment that is comfortable with uncertainty. Prepare for build-back strategies. Anticipate what needs to be done and make sure that, along with O&M, planning, design, and construction are part of the process. Insist that resilience be part of agency policies, such as design guidelines and O&M procedures. Acknowledge that, in some instances, not building back may be the appropriate action. Make resilience part of funding criteria. By planning ahead, you can include resilience in your capital projects plans. Looking at trends, you can identify opportunities to demonstrate the benefits of funding for resilience. Not all resilience work is driven by risk concerns— some efforts that save costs or use current approaches or advanced materials technology can provide additional resilience. Engage your partners in state/local governments and other organizations. Make the resilience discussion part of the annual plan update through your metropolitan planning organizations. Make good use of tabletop exercises, not just for emergency response, but also for resilience investment planning. Consider the tough questions on interdependencies and cascading failures—how you would collectively deal with extended power outages and similar catastrophic failures—and what you can collectively do to strengthen infrastructure and mitigate impacts. Nonprofit organizations such as the Red Cross, faith-based organizations, and other volunteer or community organizations play critical roles, particularly with social and community resilience. Model the Importance of Resilience in Your Words and Actions Be supportive of time spent by staff on resilience. Encourage discussions within the agency (and across agencies) on how it is dealing with issues and policies such as working on maintenance plans and priorities, or potential grants for programs. Authorize staff engagement in regional and national resilience conversations. Incorporate resilience as a high-level performance factor. Support cross-functional collab- oration by rewarding coordinated decision-making, planning, and strategy development. Require that training and exercises take resilience into account. Devise strategies for measuring resilience and take an active role in promoting improvement.

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CEOs of departments of transportation (DOTs) face many challenges, including some that will have serious impacts on people's mobility and safety, and possibly on the tenure of CEOs. Many of these challenges revolve around the resilience of the transportation system—how well it can withstand disruptions from natural causes, catastrophic failures of the infrastructure or cyber events, and how quickly the agency can restore services when they are impacted.

The TRB National Cooperative Highway Research Program's pre-publication draft of NCHRP Research Report 976: Resilience Primer for Transportation Executives provides a quick grounding in resilience benefits, the CEO’s role in resilience, and approaches taken in various states to increase the resilience of their transportation system. It also offers concepts and tools to lead agencies toward greater resilience.

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