Transportation asset management and climate change: an adaptive risk-oriented approach
O'Har, John Patrick
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Transportation Asset Management (TAM) systems are in use at many transportation agencies both in the United States and around the world. These asset management systems serve as strategic resource allocation frameworks and their degree of implementation and maturity varies. Climatic change, with its potentially adverse impacts on both the built and natural environments, has become of increasing concern around the globe. Given the uncertainties associated with changing climatic conditions, transportation agency stakeholders utilize risk-based decision-making approaches to identify climate change impacts that pose the greatest risk to transportation infrastructure assets. In conjunction with criticality assessments, emerging conceptual frameworks seek to identify higher-risk infrastructure assets, which are both critical to system operations and vulnerable to potential climate change impacts, through standalone study efforts. This research develops a risk-oriented decision-making framework to identify vulnerable, higher-risk transportation infrastructure assets within the context of existing transportation asset management systems. The framework assesses the relative maturity of an agency’s transportation asset management system and provides guidance as to how an agency’s existing tools and processes can be used to incorporate climate change considerations. This risk-based decision-making framework is applied to three case studies: one at the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, another at the Metropolitan Planning Commission in Savannah – Chatham County, and a statewide case study at the Georgia Department of Transportation. The results of this research demonstrate that readily-available climate projection data can be analyzed and displayed geospatially so that the potential impacts of climatic change on transportation infrastructure can be determined for specific geographic regions. In addition, existing roadway and bridge infrastructure datasets can also be displayed geospatially. The framework uses geospatially-referenced roadway and bridge asset data and multi-criteria decision analysis procedures to develop and visually display criticality scores. Overlaying climate projection data and criticality data helps identify higher-risk transportation infrastructure assets. This research demonstrates that climate change considerations can be effectively incorporated in existing decision-making processes at various levels of maturity of formal TAM systems, making this more broadly accessible to agencies and communities with potential climate hazards.