Climate Change Vulnerability and Risk Assessment of New Jersey’s Transportation Infrastructure

North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority and New Jersey DOT

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) created a Conceptual Model for State DOTs and MPOs to use in conducting vulnerability and risk assessments of infrastructure to the projected impacts of climate change. This initiative was undertaken to help transportation decision-makers identify which assets are most exposed to the threats from climate change and what would be the most serious consequences of those threats. A multiagency team, led by the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) and New Jersey DOT (NJDOT), and including the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, the South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization, New Jersey Transit, and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, was awarded funds from FHWA to pilot the Conceptual Model for two critical corridors within the state.

Objective

  • Utilize the FHWA’s Conceptual Model to conduct a climate change vulnerability, risk assessment, and adaptation study of transportation infrastructure within the two major multimodal transportation corridors encompassing a significant portion of the State’s economic activity;
  • Demonstrate and improve the FHWA Conceptual Model by testing the use of region-specific infrastructure data and climate projections; and
  • Advance the state of practice for transportation agencies nationwide.

Our Approach

To ensure a robust and resilient transportation network for decades to come, Cambridge Systematics supported the following initiatives:

  • Compile an inventory of all transportation-related infrastructure assets to be evaluated;
  • Develop a common set of climate data, assumptions, and scenarios for the study area (including sea level rise, storm surge, inland flooding, extreme precipitation, and extreme temperatures);
  • Screen the projected scenarios and impacts to determine the most significant and likely climate vulnerabilities; and
  • Present potential pathways for enhancing the resiliency of at-risk assets.

Project Results

The Cambridge Systematics team assessed, characterized, and mapped critical and vulnerable multimodal infrastructure within each study area (presenting multiple tiers of risk), proposed adaptation pathways for potentially impacted infrastructure, and facilitated the creation of an approach for integrating adaptation into NJTPA’s planning and project development processes.

This pilot project included recommendations for improving future climate resiliency efforts, both for FHWA’s Conceptual Model and for New Jersey agencies. Recommendations included the addition of an adaptation module to the Model, the development of broadly applicable asset vulnerability thresholds, and the development/collection of more robust data to facilitate stronger assessments.

The Climate Change Vulnerability and Risk Assessment of New Jersey’s Transportation Infrastructure report can be viewed here.