On May 21-22, 2013, AASHTO held a national symposium, Impacts of Extreme Weather Events on Transportation, in Washington, D.C. The symposium was sponsored by AASHTO’s Sustainable Transportation: Energy, Infrastructure, and Climate Solutions Technical Assistance Program, in coordination with the Center for Environmental Excellence by AASHTO and the Federal Highway Administration. The symposium provided an opportunity for DOT staff from a broad range of disciplines to convene and discuss the implications of extreme weather events on transportation.

The event covered state DOT case studies related to experiences with extreme weather events; an overview of trends and projections for extreme weather in the United States; costs of extreme weather events; and risk management strategies in design, operations and maintenance, and asset management, and emergency response.

White Paper: Impacts of Extreme Weather on Transportation: National Symposium Summary (June 2013)

Symposium Program

Day 1 Presentations

Welcome and Introduction

Bud Wright, Executive Director, AASHTO
Gloria Shepherd, Associate Administrator, FHWA Office of Planning, Environment & Realty

Session I: State DOT Experiences with Recent Extreme Weather Events

Facilitator: Karuna Pujara, Maryland DOT
This session will feature case studies highlighting the extreme weather experiences of state DOTs. Case studies will describe impacts to transportation, share lessons learned on system performance, and contribute best practices.

Case Studies on Storms and Flooding

New Jersey DOT: Our Bout with Superstorm Sandy
Richard Shaw – New Jersey DOT

Flooding in the Midwest: A Minnesota Case Study
Andrea Hendrickson – Minnesota DOT

Impacts of “Snowmageddon” on Transportation
Terry Bellamy – District of Columbia DOT

Case Studies on Wildfires and Dust Storms

2012 Waldo Canyon Fire
David Watt – Colorado DOT

Dust Storms in Arizona: The Challenge to Ensure Motorist Safety
Jennifer Toth – Arizona DOT

Synthesis and Discussion of Recent State DOT Experiences with Extreme Weather
Karuna Pujara – Maryland DOT

Inland Waterway Navigation: Effects of Disruptions and Lessons Learned
Alan Meyers – Parsons Brinckerhoff

Session II: Extreme Weather Events – Trends, Projections, and Integrating Information into Decisions

Facilitator: Elisabeth Kolb – New York State DOT
This session will cover trends and projections for extreme weather events across the United States. It will also provide examples of how state DOTs have partnered with agencies such as NOAA in order to access needed information on extreme weather events. During discussions, participants will exchange ideas for integrating available information into transportation decision making.

Extreme Weather Events in the United States: Trends and Projections
Joe Casola – Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES)

Integrating Weather Forecasts into Transportation Decision Making
David Green – National Weather Service

Useful Weather and Climate Resources for State DOTs
Ellen Mecray – NOAA

Breakout Groups by Extreme Weather Event

Assignment: Each group should prepare a “needs statement” stating (in 2 min or less) what data/information/assistance state DOTs need in order to better prepare for and recover from each type of extreme weather.

Coastal storms
Facilitator: Kevin Walsh – Massachusetts DOT

Inland floods
Facilitator: Michael Kennerly – Iowa DOT

Winter storms
Facilitator: Randy Van Portfliet – Michigan DOT

Heat waves, wildfires, and droughts
Facilitator: Kristen Keener Busby – Arizona DOT

Presentation of Needs Statements

Session III: Costs of Extreme Weather

Facilitator: Elisabeth Kolb – New York State DOT
This session will provide participants with examples of how state DOTs and other agencies have evaluated the costs of extreme weather and benefits of adaptation.

Analyzing Extreme Weather Costs for Roadway Investment Decisions
Nathaniel Coley – U.S. DOT

Evaluating the Cost of Replacing Bonner Bridge
Joe Turner – North Carolina DOT

Discussion: Costs of Extreme Weather
What kinds of cost information do state DOTs need? How do state DOTs envision using
these cost data? What are the barriers to collecting this information? What could be done to help DOTs overcome these barriers?

Day 2 Presentations

Welcome and Day 1 Recap

Jennifer Brickett – AASHTO

Session IV: Managing Extreme Weather Events (Design, Operations and Maintenance)

Facilitators: Rick Land, Caltrans (Design) and Jennifer Brandenburg, NCDOT (Operations and Maintenance)
This session contains two breakout sessions that will highlight the potential design and O&M strategies that state DOTs are pursuing in order to increase resilience to extreme weather.

Design Breakout

Designing for Extreme Weather Events: Survey Results from the AASHTO Highway Design Subcommittee
Rick Land – Caltrans

Changes to Extreme Precipitation Events: What the Historical Record Shows and What It Means for Engineers
Geoffrey Bonnin – National Weather Service

Generating Extreme Weather Projections and Using Them to Assess Vulnerability: Gulf Coast Phase 2
Rob Kafalenos – FHWA

Vermont’s Rivers and Roads: Managing for the Future
Rich Tetreault – VTrans

Discussion: Design Approaches

Operations and Maintenance Breakout

ALDOT Operations and Extreme Weather Events
George Conner – Alabama DOT

Impacts of Extreme Weather on Operations and Maintenance with a Focus on Lake Effect Snow
Greg Johnson – Michigan DOT

Extreme Weather Events and Commercial Motor Vehicles in Missouri
Jan Skouby – Missouri DOT

Discussion: O&M Approaches

Session V: Managing Extreme Weather (Emergency Management)

Facilitator: John Himmel – Washington State DOT
This session will cover emergency management of extreme weather events. Case studies will focus on communication strategies, special considerations for extended extreme weather events, and rebuilding to increase resilience.

Managing Vermont’s Emergency Response to Irene
Rich Tetreault – VTrans

Managing an Extreme Weather Event of Prolonged Duration
Michael Kennerly – Iowa DOT

Innovative Communication Strategies During Extreme Weather Events
Lloyd Brown, AASHTO

Discussion: Managing Extreme Weather Best Practices
Best practices by time-frame (before event, during event, after event) How can we re-build to increase resilience? What are effective communication strategies? How can we best leverage social media during extreme weather events?

Lunch and Presentation

Roderic Sechrist – New York State DOT

Session VI: Risk Assessment and Asset Management

Facilitator: Alan Jones – Tennessee DOT
This session will focus on vulnerability and risk assessments, with an emphasis on how asset management systems can support those assessments.

Introduction to Risk Assessment and Asset Management

Overview of FHWA Vulnerability Assessment Framework and Pilot Program
Becky Lupes – FHWA

Transportation Asset Management: A Risk-Based Approach
Butch Wlaschin – FHWA

WSDOT’s Risk Assessment
Casey Kramer – Washington State DOT

Evaluating Flood Risk in Massachusetts
Kevin Walsh – Massachusetts DOT

Coordinating Minnesota’s Transportation Assets and Extreme Weather Vulnerability
Duane Hill – Minnesota DOT

Discussion: Risk Assessment and Asset Management
What are best practices for assessing vulnerability and risk due to extreme weather events? What kinds of data and processes are required for a successful vulnerability assessment? How can asset management systems be used to support risk assessment?

Closing Keynote Address

Symposium Synthesis & Moving Forward
Michael Lewis – AASHTO President and Director of Rhode Island DOT