Planning for Managed Retreat: Decision Making in the Face of Climate Uncertainty

Sea level rise, increased frequency and intensity of flooding, and other extreme weather events have sparked a growing recognition that managed retreat must be among the solutions considered, in some locations, to protect human life, livelihoods, and substantial public and private infrastructure investments. To attract growth and increase the tax base, local governments often have an immediate economic incentive to authorize development in areas known to be at high risk to extreme weather events now and in the future. Expensive public and private transportation infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, or locks, and infrastructure designed to defend these assets from encroaching climate events (such as sea walls or levies), are built or repeatedly maintained despite these known and increasing risks. Moreover, displacing natural protections (such as wetlands or greenspace) serves to further increase risks. Longer term, the economic and human costs of continuing to build and re-build in high-risk areas may far outweigh any short term benefit to the local economy, but quantifying these costs in terms relevant to local communities can be difficult. This project will examine the need for managed retreat, case studies, and the significant challenges to implementing managed retreat as an adaptation strategy (e.g., resources, policy, law, role of insurance, cultural acceptance, and ability of relocated area to absorb increased population), with a particular focus on transportation and its interdependencies with other critical infrastructure systems. The project will also develop a decision making framework that can be used by transportation planners attempting to evaluate managed retreat as a potential adaptation strategy.


    • English


    • Status: Completed
    • Contract Numbers:


    • Sponsor Organizations:

      Department of Transportation

      1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
      Washington, DC  United States  20590

      Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

      University Transportation Centers Program
      Department of Transportation
      Washington, DC  United States  20590
    • Managing Organizations:

      Maritime Transportation Research and Education Center

      University of Arkansas
      Fayetteville, AR  United States  72701
    • Project Managers:

      Dundon, Leah

    • Performing Organizations:

      Vanderbilt Center for Transportation Research (VECTOR)

      Box 1831, Station B
      Vanderbilt University
      Nashville, TN  United States  37235
    • Principal Investigators:

      Dundon, Leah

    • Start Date: 20191201
    • Expected Completion Date: 20230930
    • Actual Completion Date: 20230930
    • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01729165
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: Maritime Transportation Research and Education Center
    • Contract Numbers: 69A3551747130
    • Files: UTC, RIP
    • Created Date: Jan 28 2020 9:19PM