Framework to Enable Multiple Agencies to Develop Policies Relating Climate Change and Infrastructure Protection

Focus Area

Climate Change


Air Quality, Environmental Process







Research Idea Scope

Different agencies will continue to develop policies related to climate change and to transportation infrastructure protection. While these two topics, and thus their related policies, often affect each other, policies are not typically developed through the joint efforts of the various agencies that may ultimately be affected or that may have valuable input for the decision making process. 
This research will develop a variety of concepts or constructs that would enable DOT, DHS, and local agencies to work together to assure that each had appropriate input into policy development related to climate change and protecting our critical transportation infrastructure. As the transportation infrastructure is multimodal and multi jurisdictional, and relates to multi sector issues (including multi-modal travel, goods movement, and security, for example), numerous agencies could be involved in collaborating for ensuring the best and most balanced policies.
This research will include assessing the potential for interagency cooperation and analyzing societal trends toward a preference for more sustainable and environmentally friendly development practices. It will consider other concepts under discussion regarding potential DOTs of the future, new roles for US DOT, new roles for metropolitan planning organizations, etc, and address how these new structures or organizations might best be designed to also consider and address climate change, critical infrastructure protection, and their relationship.
This research should also consider institutional structures needed for climate change mitigation policy and program implementation.
In addition to assessing the organization issues, this research will also assess and then develop a greater understanding of the decision and policy process related to climate change and long range planning that may support or conflict with critical infrastructure protections and security. This research will develop strategies for addressing climate change and critical infrastructure protection at key points in the Collaborative Decision-Making Framework (related to SHRP2 project). It will identify materials already produced in the planning process and develop new materials to fill gaps.
This research will also assess the flexibility within current federal regulations (e.g., regulations on spending federal funds) to address transportation needs regarding climate change and critical infrastructure protection.
To support eventual implementation of the ideas generated in this research, the final task would be for the research team to support a workshop to not only share the ideas developed, but to also apply some of the strategies to address a specific “test” scenario through a tabletop exercise.
Related Work
The capacity focus area of the Second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP 2) is developing approaches and tools for integrating environmental, economic, and community requirements into the analysis, planning, and design of new highway capacity. Its Collaborative Decision-Making Framework provides an adaptable approach, with principles, guidelines, and procedures for a variety of projects and contexts, and could be used as a basis for decision making and policy development beyond highway capacity.
Another TRB document with possible ideas on which to build is entitled, Crosscutting Techniques for Planning and Analysis 2007.
Urgency/PrioritySince there are so many ways in which transportation, climate change, and infrastructure protection relate to each other, and as various organizations have various responsibilities for each, it is imperative that we better understand organizational collaboration and devise improved constructs and processes for improved collaboration and decision making.

Urgency and Payoff

TRB could share the results of this research with various stakeholders, support the proposed workshop, and build on the workshops to deal with additional critical scenarios.
EffectivenessCollaborative decisions to the issues connecting climate change and transportation infrastructure protection should inherently be better than stove-piped decisions and policies. A possible measure of effectiveness of the impacts of this research would be when multiple stakeholders would work together for collaborative decisions or when multiple stakeholders are all positive about the “compromise” decisions and policies.

Suggested By

RNS. Sponsoring Committee: A0020T, Special Task Force on Climate Change and Energy Source Info: Special Task Force on Climate Change and Energy January 2010 Workshop