California’s extensive transportation system, including highways, roads, railways, seaports, airports, transit, and walking and biking networks, is depended upon by millions of people and thousands of communities and businesses. Besides providing access to destinations, the transportation sector is critical to emergency response, employs a significant number of people in the state, and is essential to the state and the nation for the delivery of goods and services. Climate change impacts from sea-level rise, storm surge, and coastal erosion are imminent threats to highways, roads, bridge supports, airports at or near sea level, seaports, and some transit system and rail lines.[1] Shifting precipitation patterns, higher temperatures, wildfire, and an increased frequency of extreme weather events threaten transportation assets at varying locations across the state. Temperature extremes and increased precipitation can increase the risk of road and railroad track failure, decrease transportation safety, and create higher maintenance costs. Given the significance of transportation infrastructure to California’s economy and resident’s livelihoods, damage from these impacts could result in catastrophic economic loss for the surrounding region and State.

Transportation planning requires continuous and frequent coordination across sectors and different levels of government. Impending climate impacts have implications not only for the siting of new transportation infrastructure, but also for maintenance and operation, design features of transportation systems, and emergency planning and response for extreme climate events. Furthermore, the resilience of transportation systems plays an important role in emergency management, equity, and social resilience. During Hurricane Katrina, it has been reported that 73% of hurricane-related deaths were those with disabilities and limited access to transportation options.[2] Transportation planning requires identifying climate-related vulnerabilities in transportation infrastructure, developing adaptation plans to define types of actions, and working to prioritize those actions to make the most of limited funds for capital investments. These decisions can include protecting infrastructure from climate impacts with natural and/or man-made solutions, redesigning the infrastructure where appropriate to accommodate an impact, or abandoning or relocating infrastructure in the face of extreme climate impacts.

All Resources for Transportation


Caltrans Vulnerability Assessments

California Department of Transportation. 2018
Flooding Sea level rise Temperature Wildfire
Assessment
Caltrans recently completed a vulnerability assessment in District 4 (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Mateo, Solano, and Sonoma), and will assess the eleven remaining districts by 2019. These assessments identify the sections of the state highway system vulnerable to climate change impacts including precipitation, temperature, wildfire, sea level rise, and storm surge.

Governor’s ZEV Action Plan

Governor’s Interagency Working Group on Zero-Emission Vehicles. 2016
Plan or strategy
This updated 2016 ZEV Action Plan outlines progress to date and identifies new actions state agencies will take in continued pursuit of the milestones in the Governor’s Executive Order including achieving mainstream consumer awareness of ZEV options and benefits, making ZEVs an affordable option for drivers, ensuring convenient charging and fueling infrastructure, maximizing economic and job opportunities from ZEV technologies, and bolstering ZEV market growth outside of California.

Guidance on Incorporating Sea Level Rise: For use in the planning and development of Project Initiation Documents

California Department of Transportation. 2011
Sea level rise
Planning and policy guidance
This guidance is intended for use by Caltrans Planning staff and Project Development Teams to determine whether and how to incorporate sea level rise concerns into the programming and design of Caltrans projects, but can be used by regional and local transportation planners as well.

SB1 Case Study: County of San Mateo Climate Vulnerability and Resilience Planning Project

County of San Mateo. 2018
Drought Flooding Sea level rise Temperature
Case Study
The Climate Vulnerability and Mainstreaming Resilience Planning project in San Mateo County is an innovative approach to transportation resilience planning that will provide resources for cities and vulnerable communities. This project will assess countywide climate change impacts, assist the County and 20 cities in further defining vulnerable transportation infrastructure, critical assets, and communities, while developing adaptation strategies to prepare for those impacts.

SB1 Case Study: Southern California Regional Climate Adaptation Framework

Southern California Association of Governments. 2018
Drought Extreme heat Sea level rise Wildfire
Case Study
The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) will use this project to prepare a comprehensive adaptation planning framework for its six counties to support regional climate adaptation planning. SCAG will also provide resources and implementation tools for local jurisdictions, regional planning agencies, and other stakeholders. SCAG will provide an inclusive public engagement process that includes all sectors, disadvantaged communities, and tribal communities.

SB1 Case Study: Transportation Project-Level Climate Adaptation Strategies for the Sacramento Region

Sacramento Area Council of Governments. 2018
Extreme heat Extreme storms Flooding Wildfire
Case Study
This project will identify areas of the Sacramento region and transportation infrastructure that are vulnerable to climate impacts, as well as transportation infrastructure and assets that are critical to the function of the transportation network. The Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) has explored broadly the climate impacts that will affect the region. This project will provide much greater detail and understanding of how those impacts will affect the region’s transportation system and how to mitigate these risks. The first component of the project is a vulnerability and criticality assessment of transportation assets, which will inform guidelines for prioritizing funding decisions. A second component is an assessment of the benefits and costs of asset-level climate adaptation strategies for various transportation projects and project types.

SB1 Case Study: WRCOG-SBCTA Regional Climate Adaptation Toolkit

Western Riverside Council of Governments; San Bernardino County Transportation Agency. 2018
Drought Extreme heat Flooding Wildfire
Case Study
The Western Riverside Council of Governments (WRCOG) and San Bernardino County Transportation Agency (SBCTA) are developing a Regional Climate Adaptation Toolkit (Toolkit) to assist local jurisdictions in developing climate adaptation and resiliency plans for transportation infrastructure and overall community resilience at the local level. The Toolkit will also address disadvantaged communities by removing financial and capacity barriers for low-income and multilingual communities to develop climate resiliency strategies and planning documents.

Transportation Vulnerability Assessments - Safeguarding California Example

California Natural Resources Agency. 2018
Extreme heat Flooding Sea level rise Temperature Wildfire
Project or Example
California state agencies collaborated to compile each of these examples, associated with Safeguarding California's 2018 update, to show how California is preparing for and adjusting to various extreme events brought on by climate change. Each of these examples highlights unique strategies, funded by the state, to combat and adapt to the effects of climate change. The examples are tagged with icons from the Safeguarding California Report, classifying stories by sector. Caltrans is working on climate change vulnerability assessments to the State Highway System, summarized in this example.

Adapting to Rising Tides: Transportation Vulnerability and Risk Assessment Pilot Project

Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). 2011
Flooding Sea level rise
Assessment
Adapting to Rising Tides (ART) is a program of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), which brings together local, regional, state and federal agencies and organizations, as well as non-profit and private associations for a collaborative planning project on sea level rise and climate change. This report is one of several products from these planning efforts. Specifically it is a focused assessment of the transportation sector in Alameda County’s vulnerability to future sea level rise and associated flooding impacts. It also looks at seismic vulnerability for the area. The report explores these impacts as they relate transportation assets in four categories: 1) road networks, 2) transit networks, 3) transportation facilities, and 4) bicycle / pedestrian networks. The report concludes with a brief discussion of adaptation strategies.

Cardiff Beach Living Shoreline - Safeguarding California Example

California Natural Resources Agency. 2018
Extreme storms Flooding Sea level rise
Project or Example
California state agencies collaborated to compile each of these examples, associated with Safeguarding California's 2018 update, to show how California is preparing for and adjusting to various extreme events brought on by climate change. Each of these examples highlights unique strategies, funded by the state, to combat and adapt to the effects of climate change. The examples are tagged with icons from the Safeguarding California Report, classifying stories by sector. This example showcases a living shoreline project in Southern California to protect the Pacific Coast Highway while also producing native dune habitat and enhancing the public's access to the coast.