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